I raided my neighborhood's community garden on Saturday night and came home with a bag full of dark leafy greens. Vegetables, yes, but not just any vegetables. Call them what you want: Super Foods, Perfect Foods, nutritional powerhouses, etc., these nutritiously dense leaves are really in a class all by themselves. Amazingly enough, dark leafy greens seem to be the one food group that no matter what side of the health spectrum people are on (raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, sugar free, organic, or even the Standard American Diet!), they all seem to agree that dark leafy greens are indeed good for you. And moreover, you can't go a day without reading some health article about the how they benefit the human body. To quote Laura Dolson of About.com, "Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin... Dark green leaves even contain small amount of Omega-3 fats." Read the full article here.
I started eating them with abandon a few years ago at the commencement of my health journey and have never looked back. I eat them raw, steamed, as wraps, in soups, in pestos (hence the recipe), in salads. I know that many people do, however good they are for you, find difficulty in adding them into their "daily" meal repertoires. For myself, I can't just prepare them the same way every day (too boring!), so I have to get creative in my preparation of them to keep me healthfully indulging every day. (I'm very unlike my parents, who, God love 'em, can eat a spinach salad every single day.) So hopefully you'll be inspired by this recipe to find creative ways to get the dark leafys in... at least almost everyday!
Leafy Green Pesto
12-15 leaves of dark leafy vegetables (I used 3 of each: kale, collards, beet greens, and Swiss chard)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pecans
3 tablespoons water (I used the steam water)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Steam leafy greens until bright green (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from steamer and place in food processor. Heat coconut oil in small skillet over med-low heat and when hot, add garlic and pecans. Toast about 5 minutes, shaking skillet often to prevent burning. When browned, add garlic and pecans, along with steam water and vinegar to food processor. Process about 30 seconds to 1 minute until combined. Add olive oil in steady stream to processor while running and continue to process another minute or so. Stop and add nutmeg, salt, and pepper and process one more time, adjusting seasonings as necessary.
I love to eat this alone or with raw carrots. It is also fantastic on top of grilled white fish, like mahi mahi or orange roughy (my personal favorite). It pairs well with a mild goat cheese a top of bread or crackers for a sophisticated appetizer.