Kosher Kitchen

Discovering greens for health and deliciousness


No one really knows what our ancient ancestors ate in their caves, but scholars who have studied them believe they ate mostly vegetation, and some evidence shows they ate as much as 4 to 6 pounds of 20 to 25 varieties of vegetation and leaves each day. Even though we envision a caveman with a club and a mastodon leg (a la Fred Flintstone), the truth may be precisely the opposite of this image.

Research and unearthed remains prove that cavemen, around 50,000 years ago, ate a diet consisting of mostly plants, tubers, nuts, wild barley, legumes and flowers. They knew how to use fire, so they may have cooked many of these vegetables and grains with water to soften them, especially for children. And the caveman liked sweets also. About 12 years ago, Slate reports, some residue of dates was found in the teeth of a 40,000-year-old fossilized Neanderthal man!

We do not eat the grasses and leaves that our ancestors ate; evolution has changed them, as has domestication and farming, but we do eat their relatives. Kale and cabbage may be the modern incarnations of much hardier and fibrous greens that those humanoids ate. Interestingly kale, spinach cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts all come from the same plant, but over thousands of years were propagated differently so became different vegetables.

Fibrous leaves, too tough for our teeth, eventually became much more easily chewed kale, chard, collards, and even, have purple cabbage and purple, and orange cauliflower!

Conventional wisdom tells us to include more green foods in our diets. Many of these “greens,” as they are called, are grouped together because they are so similar, can be cooked in similar ways and most have similar flavors and textures.

Eating some greens takes getting used to. Many need to be cooked and others, when cooked, take on a texture that some do not like. However, there are ways to cook greens to they are palatable and I urge you to try as many of them as possible. Start with eating more spinach and cabbage. These are more common and easier to incorporate into diets.

Green Factoids:

•Greens are practically carb free and will not affect blood glucose levels.

•They are loaded with Vitamin K needed for proper blood clotting and may offer some protection from osteoporosis. Vitamin K may also help prevent diabetes and help lower inflammatory reactions such as arthritis. Interestingly, vitamin K is a fat to soluble vitamin so serve the greens with a bit of olive oil to get the most benefits.

•Greens also contain calcium, vitamin A, C and E and many B vitamins. They also have tons of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

•They have lots of fiber which is great for digestion and for those on a lower calorie diet.

•Greens need thorough washing as they are grown in sandy soil. To wash them completely, fill a large bowl with cold water, separate the leaves and swish them around the bowl. Lift them out, drain the water and repeat until there is no more sediment in the water. Wash only what you will use for each meal. Keep the rest dry in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

•Leaves cook more quickly than the stems. Stems are great when braised and leaves can be stir to fried or steamed, and some can be eaten raw in salads. When cooking the leaves and stems together, slice the stems very thinly.

NOTE: Greens also contain oxalates, which, for some people, may present a health risk as oxalates are known to be a factor in kidney stone formation. Consult your physician if you have any questions.

Any Greens with Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil (Pareve)

Any greens can be cooked this way, remove the center rib from larger to leaved greens such as kale and chard.

1 lb. greens such as spinach, collard greens chard, kale, broccoli rabe, or a mix

2 to 3 Tbsp. extra to virgin olive oil

Several cloves of garlic, finely minced

Zest from one lemon

Lemon juice from one lemon to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: Red pepper flakes to taste

NOTE: If the greens are very bitter, add just a bit of honey to the dish.

Wash and dry the greens. Set aside. Juice one lemon and set the juice aside.

Use a micro to plane grater and grate the zest of one lemon. Place the zest into a small bowl and set aside. Finely mince the garlic and set aside.

Heat a large skillet. Add the olive oil and the minced garlic. Stir until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add the lemon zest and mix well, about 10 seconds. If you like, add the red pepper flakes and mix well. Add the greens and sprinkle with about 1 Tbsp. of the lemon juice. Use tongs to turn the greens often to cook them evenly.

Cook until wilted and bright green. If the greens still seem tough, cook a bit longer. Remove to a serving plate and season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired. Serves 2 to 4. This is great mixed with pasta or rice or any other grain or legume.

Veggie Lentil Stew with Spinach (Pareve)

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 onion, diced

1 leek, white and light green part only, sliced

2 to 4 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 cups vegetable broth

1 to 2 Tbsp. tamari sauce (low sodium is fine)

10 oz. baby red bliss potatoes, cut in half

1 to 2 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: Red pepper flakes to taste; 6 to 10 oz. baby spinach leaves

OPTIONAL: Crumbled feta or goat cheese, to taste

NOTE: You can add any veggies to this dish. Choose your families favorites. You can also add some cannelloni beans or other beans of your choice.

Heat a deep skillet or a Dutch oven. Add the olive oil and the onions and leeks and sauté until softened. Add the carrots and sauté about a minute. Add the broth and tamari sauce and mix. Bring to a boil and add the lentils. Mix and cover. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and mix. Add more broth if needed.

Cook, covered, until the potatoes and lentils are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, longer with brown lentils. Add more liquid as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust tamari. Add the red pepper flakes and mix well. Add the baby spinach leaves and mix. Cover and simmer about 2 minutes, until the spinach just wilts. Taste and adjust seasonings. Just before serving, add some crumbled cheese if you like. Serves 2 to 4.

Orange Fennel and Arugula Salad with Cheese Croutons (Dairy or Pareve)

This is a light, refreshing salad that is delicious before a fish dinner.

2 cara cara, satsuma or naval oranges or other juicy, sweet orange

1 fennel bulb

1 red beet

4 to 6 oz. arugula leaves

Sweet red onion

OPTIONAL: 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 to 3 Tbsp. extra to virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

1/2 very small clove garlic, finely minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: 1 tsp. honey

Peel the oranges and cut each segment from the white membrane. Place in a bowl and squeeze any remaining juice into another cup. Set aside.

Cut the fennel in half and slice each half paper thin. You can use a food processor fitted with the thinnest cutting blade for this. Place in a large bowl.

Peel the beet and cut into very thin matchstick pieces. Set aside.

Cut the onion in half and then slice half thinly. Separate rings and set aside. Retain other half for another use.

Place the arugula in the bowl with the fennel. Mix well. Add the onions and beets and toss.

In a smaller bowl, place the garlic and the oil and mix well. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the orange juice, vinegar and, if using, the honey. Mix well. Add salt and pepper and taste. Adjust seasonings and add more vinegar, oil, honey, or orange juice, if desired.

Add the oranges to the salad and top with the dressing. Garnish with a few cheese croutons on each plate.


Heat a large non to stick skillet and add a drop of oil and about a tablespoon of cheese to in about 4 piles in the pan. Let cook until golden and bubbly. Remove with a spatula and place on a flat plate to cool. Serve two with each salad. Serves 4.

Risotto with Edamame, Arugula, Spinach and Mushrooms (Dairy)

1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

2 cups water

1 package (10 to 12 oz.) frozen edamame or baby lima beans

1 to 1/2 cups Arborio rice

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided in half

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

2 cups torn mix of arugula and baby spinach leaves

1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the dried mushrooms and the two cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Once the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened.

Place the edamame in another small sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked through. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Line a large strainer with a paper towel and place the strainer over a large bowl. Slowly pour the mushroom liquid through the strainer until all the liquid has passed through. It’s ok if the mushrooms fall into the strainer. Take any mushrooms out of the strainer and place them on a cutting board or plate. Don’t dump them; you want to catch any grit in the paper towel; you don’t want to pour it out with the mushrooms. Coarsely chop the mushrooms. Set aside.

Measure the liquid and add enough water to make a total of 4 to 1/2 cups. Place back in the saucepan and heat until just barely simmering.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and add half the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until lightly golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. Place the shallots in a small bowl.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan, add the rice and stir often until it becomes translucent, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add a ladle full of the warm mushroom broth and stir until the rice absorbs the liquid, about 5 minutes. Add another ladleful of broth and repeat the process until most or all of the liquid is used and the rice is al dente.

While the rice is cooking, place the spinach and arugula on a plate and sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice. Microwave for about 1 minute or until wilted. Set aside.

Add the cheese to the rice and mix well. You can add as much or as little cheese as you like or none at all for a dairy to free dish. Add the shallots, edamame and mushrooms to the rice and mix well. Add the spinach and arugula and mix. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4 to 6.

Chard, Herbs and Onion Omelet (Dairy)

The key to this delicious dish, called “Trouchia,” is the “low and slow” cooking process that allows for the greens to sweeten and all the flavors to meld and produces a creamy delicious dish.

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 large red onion, quartered and thinly sliced

2 shallots, finely minced

1 bunch chard, leaves only, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

8 extra to large eggs

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced

2 Tbsp. fresh chives, minced

OPTIONAL: 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced

1 cup grated cheese (Gruyere is good; I like Monterey Jack which is a bit sweeter)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Wash the chard as directed above and chop the leaves. Save the stems for soup or for braising.

Heat a large oven to proof skillet, 10 to 12 inches, and add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions and shallots and cook over low heat until completely softened and barely beginning to turn golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add half the butter and mix until melted.

Add the chopped chard and mix well. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the leaves are tender, about 15 minutes or a bit more. Season with salt and pepper.

While the chard is cooking, mince the garlic and place it in a small bowl with about a quarter teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set it aside.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat with a fork until evenly blended. Add the garlic mixture and blend. Add the herbs and mix. Add the chard mixture and mix well. Add the shredded cheese and half the Parmesan cheese and mix.

Add the rest of the olive oil and butter to the pan set over low heat. Mix to blend. When the butter is melted, add the egg mixture back to the pan and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes without disturbing or mixing. The eggs will be set, but still liquid on top. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is browned. Slide the trouchia onto a plate and cut into wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

Spinach Kugel Soufflé (Dairy)

I have been making this since my children were little. It got them to eat spinach! They loved it. In fact, this is probably the recipe that my kids still ask for most often. From having a cold to having a baby, this is the dish they want me to bring to them! It is also a great dish to bring to any gathering, because it is delicious at any temperature to from piping hot to room temperature or even cold. It makes a great appetizer or a nice dairy side dish. Delicious topped with good marinara or salsa! We have even eaten it as a main dish with a salad and good, crusty bread.

1 stick melted (salted) butter, divided

4 to 5 pkgs. Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (10 to 12 oz. each) about 3 lb. total

3 cups low fat cottage cheese (I use Friendship Whipped)

1 lb. shredded cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack

5 extra to large eggs

6 to 7 Tbsp. flour to up to 1/2 cup

Salt and pepper, to taste

OPTIONAL: Some grated onion for a bit of onion flavor

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3/4 of the butter in a cup and pour half into a 3 or 4 to quart, oblong glass baking dish. Brush along the bottom and up the sides. Set aside.

Defrost the spinach and squeeze well over a strainer. Place the squeezed spinach into a large bowl. Add any spinach that fell into the strainer. Add the cottage cheese and eggs and mix well. Add the cheddar cheese and mix. Sprinkle the flour, salt and pepper over the mixture and mix well. Scrape into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top.

Bake at 350 for 60 to 75 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into small pieces and serve alone, or with marinara sauce or salsa. Serves 8 to 12 or more, depending on size of pieces.

NOTE: This can easily be increased for a larger crowd. For each 10 to 12 oz. of spinach, add 1 egg, I cup cottage cheese, 1 to 1/2 Tbsp. flour and 2 to 4 oz. shredded cheese. The measurements do not have to be exact.