Green champions

Green champions

By
Zita Steyn
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849497169

It is wonderful to see how the tide is turning and that ever more people are becoming aware of the crucial role that good, nutritious food plays in a healthy life. Most of us now know that eating lots of vegetables, especially green ones, is vital. One question I often get asked, however, is how to incorporate these green vegetables on a daily basis. And so the idea for this book was born. In it you will find suggestions on how to use many different kinds of green vegetables, with a particular focus on leafy greens. Feel free to substitute and experiment – once you are familiar with these wonderful foods, you will no doubt nd many more ways to enjoy them!

A word of advice: try not to get stuck on a few trusty friends. It is important to rotate between all the different vegetables, because each belongs to a different family that boasts a unique nutritional profile. Dark-green leafy vegetables are high in calcium and iron, and the bioavailability of the calcium is actually higher in kale and other dark-green leafy vegetables (like broccoli) than in dairy, but you need to eat a large variety of calcium-containing plant foods to ensure you are getting enough. Many vegetables also contain small amounts of toxins as a defence mechanism to protect the plant against predators. If consumed in excess these toxins could have a negative impact on your health, for example, the goitrogens in cruciferous vegetables could interfere with thyroid hormone function in susceptible individuals, and the oxalic acid in – amongst others – spinach, chard and beet(root) greens may inhibit mineral absorption and lead to kidney stone formation in those prone. Rotating between them will therefore ensure you gain the maximum advantage of all the wonderful nutrients they have to oer, without building up harmful levels of any toxin.

Aquatic greens

These are greens that live and grow in or near water. If they are not yet a regular part of your diet, consider finding ways to include them often. Remember to source aquatic greens from clean waters.

Seaweeds

Green sea vegetables are extremely nutritious, as they offer one of the broadest ranges of minerals of any food, containing almost all the minerals found in the ocean, including iodine, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and manganese. They contain a variety of unique phytonutrients, including the potent fucoidans, that appear to have anti-tumour, anti-cancer and neuro-protective actions. Unlike some other categories of vegetables, sea vegetables do not appear to depend on carotenoids and ­avonoids for their antioxidant bene€ts because they contain several other types, including alkaloid antioxidants. Sea vegetables are also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, thiamin, ribo­avin, niacin and B6.

Watercress

Spidery watercress – well known to many as a garnish and almost always pushed to one side by diners – is not only one of the most nutrient-dense foods available to us, but its peppery leaves are also very exciting to eat and cook with. Although this plant is technically a member of the brassica family and botanically related to garden cress, rocket and mustard, I have included it in this group, as it is considered an aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial plant that is often found near slow-moving water. Amongst the oldest-known leafy greens consumed by humans, watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, iodine and folic acid, as well as vitamins A and C. It is great in salads and soups, tossed with pasta, on sandwiches, and paired with citrus or seafood, especially smoked €sh. The best way to buy and store watercress is in lush bunches and in a small jug of water.

Samphire

A distinction is made between rock samphire, found on cliffs or in rocks and shingle on the Mediterranean coast, and marsh samphire (also known as sea beans, sea asparagus or glasswort), a succulent that also grows near the sea, but prefers estuaries and wetlands rich in minerals and trace elements. Samphire is a good diuretic, believed to aid digestion, and is rich in vitamin C. Choose stalks that are bright green and €rm, wash them well and use as soon as possible. They only need a minute or two of steaming or stir-frying, but can be enjoyed raw too. Remember not to add any salt to the dish, as samphire is very salty.

Simple ways to eat aquatic greens:

Combine watercress with other lettuces in a salad with sliced oranges and avocados, and serve with a simple vinaigrette.

Sprinkle a pinch of dried kelp ­flakes into soups or stews while cooking.

Make a side dish with quinoa, finely chopped herbs and watercress, chopped tomatoes and finely chopped onions. Add lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Rinse arame and soak for 5 minutes, before adding to sautéing vegetables such as carrots, slow-cooked onions, winter squash, lotus root and some shiitake mushrooms.

Sauté garlic and samphire for a minute, then add slivers of lightly steamed asparagus. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Chop and simmer together a bunch of watercress, a couple of pears, garlic, onions, a potato or two and some ginger in a pot with stock, then blend until smooth for a revitalising soup.

Chopped, rehydrated hijiki and arame are delicious added to cooked rice, millet or barley.

Make a watercress sauce for grilled fish by mixing finely chopped watercress, lemon juice, crème fraîche or thick natural yogurt and sea salt.

Toast nori sheets in a hot pan and eat as a snack.

Finely chop samphire and add to a kedgeree a minute before serving.

Green brassica (or cruciferous) vegetables

Pungent, potent brassicas – all members of the mustard family – are the undisputed heavy-hitters in the vegetable world. Not only is almost every part (root, stalk, stem, leaf, bud, flower, sprout and seed) of a plant used for food in this family, they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and contain very high levels of phytochemicals, the non-nutritive substances in plants that have been shown to fight carcinogens, inflammation and liver toxicity, and generally support good health. Most brassicas improve taste-wise, and become less pungent and more digestible, with gentle cooking, such as steaming, or a brief sauté.

Kale, curly kale and cavolo nero

In addition to providing high levels of vitamins and flavonoids, superheroes kale & co contain several natural components (called glucosinolates) that are converted into sulphur-containing phytochemicals (called isothiocyanates) in the digestive tract, and these in turn are thought to help prevent several types of cancer and, in some cases, even suppress the growth of cancerous tumours. Thanks to their broad nutritional profile, these vegetables are also believed to help fight cardiovascular disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and premature ageing of the skin, and to promote the health of the urinary tract. Finally, all common kale cultivars provide plenty of carotenoids which, amongst others, are known for their ability to support eye health. Cavolo nero is called black cabbage Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale or lacinato.

Spring greens and collards

These spring cabbages are similar to kale in that the central leaves only form a very loose head, thus giving us silky, easy-to-prepare leaves without the crunch of round cabbages. Being loose, all the leaves are fully exposed to light, and so more strongly flavoured, but are also particularly rich in vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre. They are considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most other domesticated forms.

Green cabbages and brussels sprouts

Common green (and red) cabbages, one of the oldest of the brassica vegetables, and the ancestors of broccoli and cauliflower, have thick leaves and round, tightly-wrapped heads. Savoy cabbage has a milder avour and thinner, more textured leaves. Brussels sprouts look like tiny cabbages, but are in fact buds that form all along tall stalks of the parent plant. Cabbages, like other brassicas, are high in sulphur and rich in phytonutrients antioxidants.

Broccoli

Broccoli (regular, tenderstem and broccoli rabe or rapini) contains one of the most powerful phytochemicals – sulforaphane – which is formed when the vegetable is cut, chopped and/or chewed. Bacteria in your intestines can also act on broccoli to produce sulforaphane. This phytochemical is so potent that scientists are interested in developing it as a potential treatment for cancer and autism. Unfortunately frozen broccoli lacks the ability to produce sulforaphane, but researchers are working on a solution, for example adding a small amount of radish powder to the frozen veg.

Asian brassicas (pak choy, chinese broccoli, tatsoi, napa cabbage and mizuna)

These are similar in some ways to the more familiar European brassicas, but are faster growing, often more productive and have many and varied uses. Most parts are eaten, used in stir-fries or steamed, but they can also be used as salad greens. Flavours vary from mild to peppery, but they are generally not as pungent or bitter as the other brassicas. Napa cabbage, also called Chinese or celery cabbage, has a more delicate texture and flavour than common cabbage.

Root brassicas (kohlrabi and wasabi)

The name “kohlrabi” is an amalgamation of the German word for cabbage and the Swiss German word for turnip – and this is a good description of the taste you can expect. I love it raw, either finely chopped, grated or as carpaccio, but it can also be sautéed, roasted or added to stir-fries and stews. The greens are also delicious raw (when young and tender) or wilted.

Wasabi is commonly known as Japanese horseradish, although it is not from a species of horseradish, but rather a brassica. Although wasabi does have a strong, spicy taste, it is different from the taste of chilli peppers, which get their heat from capsaicin that causes a “burning” sensation on the tongue. Wasabi releases chemical vapours that affect the nasal passage. The powerful smell and taste are derived from the high levels of isothiocyanate, the sulphur-containing phytochemical which is believed to combat cancer.

Simple ways to eat green brassicas:

Serve sautéed or steamed broccoli or other brassicas with blank canvas foods, such as cooked legumes or rice, and lots of olive oil.

Any kind of fat can be used to subdue the flavour of an ingredient, as well as add richness and a wonderful mouth-feel to any dish. Try adding coconut cream to a kale and chicken curry, for example, or mixing some nuts and avocado into your dressed mustard green and lettuce salad.

Brassicas are delicious with a variety of chillies or cayenne pepper, and one of my favourite ways with pak choy is to sauté it with some salt, garlic and chopped chillies in a little oil, then to toss it with cooked soba noodles. Serve this with virgin sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Adding creamy organic (preferably pastured and unpasteurised) dairy products, such as soft cheese, cream or yogurt, to a brassica stir-fry or soup, or a dressing intended for a rocket salad, makes all the difference.

Bold flavours do well alongside salty ingredients, such as olives, hard cheeses, anchovies, smoked or cured meats and ™sh, capers and shoyu. Try grating some Parmesan over an oven-roasted tray of Brussels sprouts.

I love the taste of cabbage with fruit – raw cabbage with fresh fruit such as an apple and shaven cabbage salad, or sautéed cabbage with dried fruits such as raisins or currants.

Try shredding some spring greens and frying in a little oil before tossing in a tangy lemon and honey vinaigrette. Adding something sweet to pungent foods often helps balance the avour.

The beetroot family

Spinach, chard and all the beet cultivars belong to the Amaranth (or Amaranthaceae) family, which is mostly native to tropical America and Africa. This flowering plant family is dominated by herbs but also includes vines, shrubs and trees. Leaves are mostly simple and entire, and flowers regular, cyclic and tiny.

Spinach

Believed to have originated in Persia, spinach spread across Europe by the 12th century and was desirable for its healthful properties even in those days. Generally you will find two or three different types of spinach: Savoy, with dark-green wrinkled leaves, semi-Savoy, and a flat-leaf type with smooth leaves. Fresh leaves are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, flavonoids and carotenoids, which together help protect against free radicals. This green leafy vegetable and its family members also contain good amounts of many B-complex vitamins and vitamin K, as well as being a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. One thing to note with this group of vegetables is the concentration of oxalic acid (especially in more mature plants), which is present but much lower in many other vegetables and plant-based foods, but high enough in this family to interfere with the absorption of minerals such as calcium and iron. To avoid this, rotate your greens, mix high-oxalate greens with lower-oxalate greens, cook the greens and discard the cooking water, or ferment them. On top of that, iron from plant sources (called non-heme iron) as compared to animal sources (heme iron) is quite diffcult for your body to absorb, so add some vitamin C-rich foods such as peppers and citrus, or some heme-iron foods to your meal to increase the iron absorption, and avoid foods that may inhibit iron absorption, such as calcium-rich foods, caffeine, cocoa, phytate-rich foods (such as soy, some nuts and seeds, and some legumes), and eggs.

Swiss or rainbow chard

Chard (also known as Swiss chard, leaf beet, silver beet, spinach beet, seakale beet, crab beet, mangold, and even just spinach in some countries) is a leafy green vegetable with large leaves that taste a little like spinach, but are slightly sweeter. Younger leaves can be eaten raw in salads, but the fleshy stalks and tougher leaves of more mature plants are usually cooked. Like spinach, chard is full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, and should be briefly boiled or sautéed to retain as many of these as possible. The leaf can be green or reddish and the stalks also vary in colour – usually white, yellow, or red (which is what “rainbow chard” refers to).

Simple ways to eat the beetroot family:

When making gnocchi from scratch, add some puréed spinach and grated nutmeg to the dough.

Finely shred beetroot greens and add to a beetroot and chickpea curry a few minutes before serving.

Add a handful of spinach leaves and some sautéed onion to two beaten eggs for an easy breakfast scramble.

Juice younger beetroot greens together with lower oxalate lettuces and add a lemon to increase iron absorption.

Make a version of the Punjabi potato and spinach dish, aloo-palak, by sautéing a bay leaf, pinch of ground cloves, and some ground cinnamon and turmeric until fragrant, then adding chopped onions, garlic paste and grated ginger, and cooking this with chopped tomatoes until soft. Stir in finely chopped, cooked spinach and cubed cooked potatoes, and season to taste.

Cook the stems and leaves of rainbow chard until tender, then finely shred and stir into lightly steamed carrots and peas with a knob of salted butter.

Top crispy rye toast with sautéed beetroot greens, soft goat’s cheese, fresh figs and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

Use briefly blanched large-leaf spinach or chard leaves to make parcels filled with cooked lentils, onion, chopped fresh herbs, grated ginger and spices, such as paprika and allspice.

Swiss chard, caramelised onions and goat’s cheese are great together in a tart or quiche.

The daisy family

The Asteraceae or Compositae (commonly known as the aster, daisy or sun ower family) are a large family of owering plants with over 23,600 species and 13 subfamilies. Many members have composite owers in the form of ower heads, like the star form of its most prominent member, the aster. This family provides us with valuable products such as cooking oils, lettuces, sun ower seeds, artichokes, sweetening agents, coffee substitutes and herbal teas and medicines.

Lettuces, leaves and bitter greens

Many edible lettuces and leaves fall in the daisy family, including curly endive (or frisée), romaine, cos, chicory or Belgian endive, escarole, radicchio, oak leaf, dandelion, butter (Bibb and Boston) lettuce, iceberg, and loose-leaf lettuce. The leaves all boast different shapes, sizes, colours, textures and tastes. Generally the darker green the leaf, the more nutritious, but they are all a wonderful addition to your diet, being rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (specifically potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium), and very low in oxalic acid.

Lettuces range in bitterness from mild (such as butter lettuce) to severe (like dandelion or chicory), but don’t be put off by it. Like many other green vegetables already discussed, the bitterness in edible leaves triggers a chemical reaction in our bodies that has numerous health benefits, such as helping to absorb nutrients by stimulating the production of gastric acid, enzyme production and bile flow. Bitter foods also help balance taste buds, control food cravings and help sweep waste through the digestive tract with the help of fibre and sulphur-based compounds which support the natural detoxification pathways in the liver. Finally, bitter foods and herbs have been shown to boost metabolism, inhibit fat absorption, and prevent insulin spikes.

Simple ways to eat the daisy family:

Toss wilted escarole lettuce in harissa paste and serve alongside roast chicken or grilled ‹sh.

Prepare chicory leaf cups with chopped walnuts and crumbled blue cheese to serve with an apéritif before dinner.

Marinade thinly sliced courgette in olive oil, lemon juice and chopped herbs for several hours, then arrange on a platter and garnish with bits of dressed frisée, pickled red onions and lemon zest.

For a barbecue, cut small heads of butter lettuce in half, brush with oil and grill for 2–3 minutes before drizzling with a crème fraîche, chive and lemon dressing.

Heat some oil in a pan, add cooked beans (such as cannellini) and fry until crispy before adding some garlic, dandelion leaves and salt. As soon as the greens have wilted, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Mix different leaves such as loose-leaf, baby cos and radicchio, and dress with a shallot vinaigrette to serve alongside a rich meal.

Roughly chop romaine lettuce and toss with chunks of apple, pecan nuts and a tangy yogurt dressing, for a refreshing autumnal salad.

Cut romaine lettuces in half and spread salsa verde over the surface before roasting in a medium-hot oven for about 10 minutes, until the lettuce is slightly browned around the edges.

Toss curly endive with hot, roasted squash, finely chopped chives, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and raisins, for a delicious side dish.

Cut heads of chicory in half, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven for 15 minutes, then top with orange slices and soft goat’s cheese, before returning to the oven for another 15–20 minutes, or until tender and golden.

Herbs

What would our culinary world be like without these fragrant plants?! I rely heavily on these green leaves and stems to flavour food, but I also cherish herbs for their medicinal value and even to enliven wardrobes and linens. Traditionally, different regions use specific varieties of herbs, and so a particular combination of flavours will frequently elicit memories of a country once visited or an exotic meal enjoyed. The leaves of many herbs can be dried and used as a substitute for fresh, but they often lose some intensity and create a more earthy flavour rather than provide a hit of freshness. Here are a few more commonly known culinary herbs and ideas for how to use them:

Basil

A versatile and popular aromatic herb, basil is most often used in Mediterranean and Asian dishes, such as the classic pesto Genovese (made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and olive oil), or a Thai curry made with holy basil (tulsi). If you are a keen gardener, try growing some varieties with interesting ­avours, such as pineapple, lemon, clove and anise.

Bay leaves

I usually have a large bag of bay leaves at the ready to add whenever I cook grains, legumes or large batches of stocks, soups, sauces and stews. The bittersweet and mildly spicy leaves are best used when cooking times are slightly longer and, together with parsley and thyme, it forms part of the bouquet garni added to many classic French recipes. It is one of the few herbs that is equally good fresh or dried.

Chives

Chives are top greens in the allium family, which also includes garlic, spring onions (the top greens of immature onions) and leeks. The long, thin and hollow green blades have a mild, grassy ­avour and combine perfectly with chervil, parsley and tarragon in the classic French blend known as nes herbes. Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries, not only for their invaluable pungent ­avour, but also for their health benefits. Just like other allium members, chives possess thiosulfinate antioxidants, which convert to allicin – an organosulfur compound – by enzymatic reaction when its leaves are cut, chopped or crushed. Studies have found that allicin, which has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, is most potent directly after the cell membranes have been disturbed, and that heat destroys it. Allicin has also been found to help reduce cholesterol production, blood pressure and overall risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases and stroke.

Coriander

Coriander (cilantro) is the only herb I know of that elicits a “love or hate” response, but it is nonetheless used commonly across the world. Its tender stems and vibrant green leaves, not dissimilar in appearance to €at-leaf parsley, have a fresh, citrus taste, and very strong aroma. Leaf coriander is best added to a dish just before serving, but coriander seeds (the dried berries) can withstand heat and longer cooking times. Coriander is very rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. Its leaves and seeds contain various essential oils and the plant is considered to be an antiseptic, analgesic, aphrodisiac, digestive aid, fungicide and natural stimulant. It is also a very good source of vitamins A, C, K and traces of the B vitamins, and calcium, potassium,ˆiron, manganese and sodium.

Dill

This green herb, with its wiry, thread-like leaves, has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Like coriander, the seeds can also be used. Dill’s distinctive, slightly bitter taste is a combination of anise (or liquorice), fennel and celery. Dill’s unique medicinal value is ascribed to mainly two healing components, namely monoterpenes – phytonutrients that exhibit an aromatic ring – and flavonoids, but it is also rich in minerals and certain amino acids. The health beneŽts of dill include its ability to boost digestive health, as well as provide relief from insomnia, hiccups, diarrhoea, dysentery, menstrual disorders, respiratory disorders and cancer. It is also good for oral care, can be a powerful boost for the immune system and can protect from bone degradation. It is also an anti-inflammatory substance, so it can protect against arthritis, and relieve €atulence.

Marjoram

Sweet marjoram – valued for centuries for its culinary and medicinal uses – is one of the most popular herbs used throughout the Mediterranean region. It is delicate and slightly sweet-tasting with a subtle pungency. In the US it is often referred to as, and confused with its bolder cousin, oregano. Marjoram is very effective in the treatment of coughs and colds. It is considered a potent decongestant and helps fight viral infection, bronchitis, sinusitis and sinus headaches. It is also believed to have a calming effect and support cardiac health due to its flavonoid content, and is a wonderful aid in digestion-related disorders.

Mint

The herb often associated with a fresh breath is also a very versatile kitchen companion. Of the two dozen species, the one grown and used most widely is spearmint, but peppermint, with its darker green leaves and sharper avour, is also used, mainly to avour confectionery and ice cream. Mint has antiseptic qualities, aids digestion (by activating the salivary and digestive enzyme glands), and is known to soothe respiratory complaints. I particularly like mint for its ability to naturally uplift and stimulate when I am having a low point.

Oregano (or wild marjoram)

I have used oregano several times in the recipes in this book, as it is really delicious and has some wonderful health benefits. Origanum bushes produce strong stems with dark-green leaves that have a pungent, slightly oral and bitter taste with citrus undertones. This herb loves garlic and lamb, and can hold its own when combined with vinegar or lemon. Like most herbs, oregano has a much higher antioxidant level than other fruit and vegetables, and is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Additionally, oregano contains potent antimicrobial phytochemicals, and has some anti-viral properties.

Parsley

This is my favourite multi-tasker. Even though it has a distinct avour, it is strangely neutral and manages to blend in with many foods and avours. I often toss a handful into my smoothie and whenever I feel a meal lacks chlorophyll, I add a huge amount of ‰nely chopped parsley. There are two main varieties: curlyleaf and at-leaf, with the latter having a slightly stronger taste. Parsley belongs to the Apiaceae family, along with carrots, celery, and other herbs like cumin, dill, lovage, angelica, and anise. The herb contains valuable volatile oils and avonoids that have chemo-protective bene‰ts and act as antioxidants to protect cells from oxidative damage and stress. The herb is also anti-bacterial, anti-inammatory, and a great source of vitamin C and betacarotene (pro-vitamin A).

Rosemary

We have a huge rosemary bush in our garden and I run out for twigs regularly throughout the year. The pine needle-like leaves are a versatile avouring agent that can be used in a vast number of dishes. Add the whole stem to a pot roast or strip the leaves o” and chop them up very ‰nely before including in a wintry pasta dish. Rosemary has also been used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments over the centuries. It has powerful antioxidant, anti-inammatory, antibacterial and anti-carcinogenic properties, is said to improve memory, lift mood, relieve migraines and pain in general, detoxify the liver, and help treat digestive problems. It can also be used as a natural remedy for respiratory problems.

Sage

Native to the Mediterranean and Balkans, sage is a member of the mint family and has a very strong, musty, slightly bitter avour, so use with care. Sage leaves are greyish-green (sometimes purple) and velvety, and can withstand long cooking times. In fact, sage is very rarely eaten raw. Often used with poultry, sage seems to go especially well with fatty dishes and is believed to aid in their digestion. Its antiseptic and astringent properties make sage ideal for many conditions of the mouth and throat, and it is also said to improve memory.

Tarragon

Often used in French cooking (it is one of the herbs that makes up fines herbes and is used in Béarnaise sauce), this herb has long, soft, bright-green leaves and an aniseed avour with a hint of vanilla. A perfect match for poultry, †sh, eggs and cheese, use fresh or dried tarragon to avour dishes, sauces, or condiments. This herb has been used by numerous cultures for centuries as a natural treatment for many ailments (such as toothache and digestive issues), and is high in vitamins, potassium and other nutrients that have been proven to provide health benefits.

Thyme

Another member of the mint family, subtle thyme (in all its varieties) is an essential component of any cook’s arsenal. It grows in long, thin sprigs with small green leaves, which are mostly stripped from the stalk, although whole sprigs can also be added to dishes such as stews, soups and sauces, and removed before serving. It pairs well with other Mediterranean herbs like oregano and marjoram, and is used throughout Italian, French and Mediterranean cooking. Just like the other herbs, thyme is packed with health-promoting components. Amongst others it supports eye health, helps cure coughs and colds, has antibacterial properties, helps control blood pressure, improves bone health and aids digestion.

Simple ways to eat herbs:

Toast fresh oregano leaves lightly in a pan before adding them to your favourite chilli con carne recipe.

Sprinkle fresh whole leaves of marjoram in a salad of greens.

Put fresh tarragon sprigs and peeled garlic cloves into a sterilised bottle with cider vinegar. Place in a dark spot for a few days and remove the sprigs once the desired strength has been reached.

Wrap several rosemary twigs in some muslin and add to a pot of beans while they are cooking. You will impart the avour without having to pick out hundreds of needles.

Scatter oregano leaves over cubes of goat’s milk feta and mixed olives, then drizzle with olive oil.

Finely shred fresh mint and add to chocolate chip cookie dough.

Toss marjoram and toasted pecans with thinly sliced oranges and leeks dressed with pecan oil.

Add fresh thyme leaves to a marinade for vegetable kebabs at your next barbecue.

One of the best uses for oregano in your cooking is adding it to a dry rub or a marinade for meat (that includes cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika, garlic) prior to cooking, which may help reduce the toxic compounds created during the cooking process.

For a great snack, place a fresh anchovy between two sage leaves and fry in some hot oil until crisp.

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