Greens – you can find them cooked in a pot with a piece of ham the same way they have been done in Georgia for hundreds of years, or you may find them in the trendiest restaurant in a recipe concocted by the chef 24 hours ago that combines French, Southern and Asian influences.
However you decide to include Georgia greens in your diet, you’ll be pleased with both the flavor and the nutrition they provide.
“Greens” is a broad term that refers to numerous leafy vegetables that may be cooked or eaten raw. The most common greens in Georgia are mustard greens, turnip greens and kale.
These members of the cabbage family may be combined or served individually. They may also be grown together.
A “greens patch” on a farm or in a home garden is likely to include a mix of these three and perhaps tendergreens, rape and radish as well.
Southerners eat greens on New Year’s Day to invite prosperity in the coming year. The greens represent greenbacks and eating plenty of greens means your pocketbook will be full of dollar bills. (Black-eyed peas are also eaten and represent silver money.) Depending on your region and your family’s traditions, the greens eaten on January 1st will be the some of the greens listed above or collards.
Collards are another cabbage relation that fall into the greens category. Collards have thicker leaves than the greens previously mentioned and are grown and served separately. They may be listed on a restaurant menu as “collard greens” or simply as “collards.”
Kale – beauty, taste, nutrition
Some people’s introduction to kale might have been as a garnish for fruit salads or main dishes. Curly kale is probably now more common than parsley on some restaurant plates. Like parsley it adds an attractive bit of green and serves as a refreshing palate cleanser. Like collards and other deep-green greens, kale is packed with vitamins. ‘Lacinato’
and ‘Red Russian’ kales are old varieties that have made a comeback in gardens because they are beautiful as well as tasty. Ornamental kale (aka flowering kale or flowering cabbage) is an ornamental plant grown for its cream or purple leaves but is edible as well.
While most people only know radish for its roots, radish leaves may also be eaten cooked with other greens or eaten raw while young and tender. Raw radish leaves have a pleasant, peppery taste and are used on salads.
This sweet, smooth-leaved cabbage relative is often mixed with sharper tasting greens such as mustard and turnip greens.
‘Tendergreen’ mustard-spinach is commonly referred to as “tendergreens.” It is neither mustard nor spinach, but is a variety of leafy turnip that is milder than mustard greens.