Greens. I get quite obsessed. I always feel that if I get at least 3 cups of the stuff into my gob each day, then I have a leave pass with the rest of my diet. Within reason.

In Europe, however, it’s been tough going in the cruciferous, leafy and folic department. Mostly it’s been pork. And potatoes. Actually, hold the potatoes, I’ll have – OK, you only have lettuce? – some lettuce. And an olive. I outlined in a previous post how I get my greens when travelling – it’s a challenge, but there are ways. Anyway, as an ode to this challenge, and because I’m craving the damn stuff, and because it’s spring back home and a fine ‘ole time to eat spinach, silverbeet (also called Swiss chard) and kale, here are some great green recipes that don’t involve a ton of ingredients, and can be made as a quick Inject My Life With Goodness meal.

This first one is an ode to Marija, my photographer mate who travelled with me in Copenhagen and Iceland. We ate fish soup in the latter and we almost cried from culinary happiness. This recipe is for her to make back home!! Ya hear me Maj? It’s a modified version of a chowder recipe I read a while back.

Fish soup with kale

  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1  carrot, chopped
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 anchovy fillets, soaked in water for 4 minutes, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup fennel, chopped
  • A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a strip of orange zest, a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a dried red chili if desired, tied together with a string
  • Generous pinch of saffron (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and washed
  • 650 grams firm, white-fleshed fish, cut in 2- or 3-inch pieces

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, fennel and carrot. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and stir in the garlic, anchovies and chopped parsley. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is very fragrant, another minute or two, and add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit and the mixture smells aromatic, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the water, salt to taste and the bouquet garni, and bring to a simmer. Add the saffron, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Taste, adjust salt and add pepper to taste. Remove the bouquet garni.

2. While the soup is simmering, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt generously and add the kale. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still colorful. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside.

3. Just before serving, season the fish with salt and pepper and stir into the soup, along with the kale. The soup should not be boiling vigorously. Simmer 5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillets), or just until the fish flakes easily when poked. Remove from the heat, taste once more and adjust seasonings, and serve.

Makes: 6 servings.

Original recipe here.

Chickpea and silverbeet soup

This one is courtesy of the New York Times.

  • 1 1/3 cups chickpeas, rinsed and soaked for 4 to 6 hours or overnight in water
  • 2 tbls  olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons sweet paprika, to taste
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Silverbeet (also called Swiss chard) or kale, stemmed, washed and coarsely chopped


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 to 4 tbls fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Drain the chickpeas and combine with 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour. Set a strainer over a bowl and drain the chickpeas. Measure the broth and add enough water to make 6 cups.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, parsley and paprika, and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes cook down slightly and smell fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer 30 to 60 minutes, until the chickpeas are thoroughly tender. Add the greens and bring back to a simmer. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until the greens are very tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.

When ready to serve, if using the egg and lemon, beat together the egg yolks and lemon juice in a bowl. Making sure that the broth is not boiling, whisk in a ladleful of broth from the soup. Turn off the heat under the soup and add the mixture back into the soup while stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. The eggs should not curdle but should cloud the soup.

Spoon a few tablespoons of rice into each soup bowl and ladle in the soup. Serve hot.

Serves 4 – 6.

Stewed greens with tomato and mint

  • Silverbeet or kale, stemmed and washed
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional if desired for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • A large can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill
  • 2 tbls tomato paste, diluted in 1/2 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Blanch silverbeet for 1 minute, or kale for 2 minutes. Transfer to the ice water, then drain and squeeze out water. Coarsely chop and set aside. Alternatively, steam the greens in a large steamer – 2 minutes for silverbeet, 3 to 4 minutes for kale. Rinse and squeeze dry.

In a wide, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is tender and beginning to color, 5 to 8 minutes, and add the garlic, paprika and cayenne. Cook, stirring, for about a minute, until fragrant, and add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the greens, herbs and diluted tomato paste, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the greens are very tender, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, bulgur or just some good, crusty bread.

Serves 4 -6.

Egg salad and greens wrap

  • 4 large eggs, hard-boiled (see below)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, dill, tarragon, chervil, chives
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bulb fennel or celery
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Hellmann’s or Best Foods mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 bunch beetroot greens or silverbeet, stemmed and washed thoroughly in 2 changes of water
  • 3 whole-wheat lavash

To hard-boil the eggs, place in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a rolling boil. Cover the pan tightly and turn off the heat. Let sit for 12 minutes. Fill a bowl with ice water, drain the eggs and chill immediately in the ice water until completely cool.

Cut the eggs in half and remove and discard two of the yolks if desired. Combine the chopped eggs, herbs, and fennel or celery in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard and yogurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the egg mixture. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Blanch for 1 to 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water. Alternatively, steam the greens in a steamer basket over an inch of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat, rinse and squeeze out excess water.

Lay a piece of lavash (the long edge is closest to you). Arrange 1/3 of the greens, then a third of the egg mixture. Roll up tightly like a burrito, so that the filling is secure. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to take to work or to eat.

makes: 3 wraps.

Potato and shard stalk gratin

  • 2 cups small boiling potatoes, scrubbed
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups wide silverbeet stems (from 1 large or 2 smaller bunches), trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat (1 percent or 2 percent) milk
  • Freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup Gruyère, grated

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Rub a 2-quart baking dish or gratin with the cut clove of garlic, and brush with olive oil. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and boil gently until tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Add the spinach stalks to the pot, and simmer for another five minutes until crisp-tender. Drain, and retain the cooking liquid if you prefer to use it instead of milk for the béchamel. Cut the potatoes into quarters or halves, depending on their size.

Make the béchamel. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot or onion, and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. It should have the texture of wet sand. Whisk in the milk all at once, and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and has lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper. Strain while hot into a heatproof bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup.

Cut the potatoes into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Combine with the spinach stalks and thyme in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add the béchamel, and stir until the vegetables are coated with sauce. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the Gruyère on top.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and beginning to brown on the top. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Coconut kale

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbls Amino Acids
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped into inch size pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 180 C. Mix olive oil and amino acids into a bowl. Toss kale and coconut with the oil and amino acids mix until well coated. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet and dust with a light sprinkle of sea salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally. Add pine nuts and watch closely as they burn fast. Bake for another 2-3 minutes or until you can smell the pine nuts. Remove from oven and serve.

Spinach with pecorino cheese

This recipe is from Dan Buettner’s Blue Zone collection of recipes!
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 big handful of basil
  • 2 tbls of olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups of Pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 200 C. Wash spinach in cold water. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Cook spinach for 1-2 minutes, strain through a sieve. Peel garlic and cut into thin slivers. Mince basil finely as well. Mix spinach with garlic, basil and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put spinach into four individual ovenproof ramekins. Cut pecorino into pieces and put on top of the spinach. Bake spinach in oven for about 4 minutes until cheese starts melting.