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Life After Kale: Six Other Greens You Should Be Eating

By Jeffrey Urquhart

We love kale as much as the next guy, but downing all those raw salads and smoothies has sorta started to make our faces turn green. Enter Daniel Ryan and Kim Floresca of [ONE] Restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., two chefs who realize the trendy superfood has been a gateway leaf for many and who are now using their region’s diverse bounty to craft culinary creations with less familiar greens. Their agnolotti, for instance, is not only stuffed with yams but served with the plant’s leaves, which are softened in a horseradish cream. To complete the dish, which can also be made with more fibrous pumpkin leaves, they toss in pickled cranberries. Instead of the quinoa grains you’re used to, Ryan and Floresca feature the plant’s earthy greens in their delicious mix of lamb neck, white beans, and kohlrabi.

If you can’t get to North Carolina to try [ONE]’s five-course tasting menu (though with its very fair $50 price tag, you should), you can find plenty of kale alternatives at most health-conscious grocery stores.  We recommend these six, which should be scrubbed well and then mixed into a salad, or, as the chefs suggest, “cooked down in a flavorful broth” of butter or olive oil with a squeeze of lemon or orange juice.

Yam Greens
Most eaters are after these tubers’ roots, but their pointy leaves taste like spinach and contain a lot of iron.

Dandelion Greens
Similar to arugula but more bitter, the leaves of this common weed are used to jazz up the pies at San Francisco’s famed Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, which offers the Dandelion Girl: three types of cheese, some green sprigs, and lemon.

Mustard Greens
Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga serves a mustard green salad at his new Southern-inspired Philly eatery, the Fat Ham. The leaves have a bitter kick, but considering they’re low in calories and full of vitamins A and C, they’re some of the healthiest.

Tatsoi
Popular in Asian cooking, the indented, spoon-shaped leaves of this green have been on the rise in farmers’ markets stateside. Resembling a bite-sized bok choy, it’s ideal for salads, like the tatsoi and apple starter at Chicago’s Green Zebra, a favorite among Windy City vegetarians.

Nori
You’ve had this algae wrapped around a sushi roll, but the papery ingredient stands on its own at progressive eateries like Ellary’s Greens in New York City, which shreds it and mixes it into a salad that contains two other saltwater greens you should look out for: arame and dulse.

Borage Leaves
Keep your eyes open for this cucumber-flavored European green, used as a botanical when mixing gin.

Pumpkin Greens for the Home Cook: From [ONE]’s kitchen
4 cups pumpkin greens
¼ cup fried and seasoned pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. grated pecorino
1 cup cream
2 tbsp. good quality olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt to taste
Blanch the washed pumpkin greens in lightly salted water until tender. Shock them in ice water and drain well. Roughly chop. Combine with cream and reduce by 50-percent or until the right consistency. Season with cheese, lemon, sea salt, and olive oil. Finish with pumpkin seeds and serve with crusty bread.

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