8 Excellent Ways to Enjoy Your Garden’s Greens

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a gardener, it’s this: When you grow vegetables, you eat vegetables. (A lot of them, usually.)

I eat from my Tower Garden every day — which is a good thing. But sometimes, I get lazy about how I eat from my garden.

Take salad, for example. It’s a remarkably easy dish to make when you grow your own greens. Simply dress a fresh harvest with a little olive oil and vinegar, and bon appétit!

But easy isn’t always the most interesting. In fact, when eaten on a regular basis, salad can become downright boring. (That said, these 10 salads are pretty delicious, even on a regular basis.)

The good news is there are many other ways to use your homegrown greens. So, next time you’re feeling creative in the kitchen — or simply sick of salad — try one of these eight ideas.

1. Blend for a superfood smoothie.

Let’s start with one of the most popular alternatives to salad. Smoothies offer a quick way to squeeze more nutrients and fiber into your diet.

What can you put in a smoothie? Pretty much any kind of green, from lettuce to kale. Many fruits are fair game, too. For recipe ideas, check out this green smoothie roundup from Juice Plus+®.

2. Stir-fry for a savory treat.

After salad, this is how I most commonly prepare my greens — especially hardier varieties, such as bok choy, mustard, and kale.

The process is simple: just toss a handful of greens into a pan with olive oil, and cook over medium heat. Alternatively, you can include your greens in a larger stir-fry dish — perhaps one with broccoli, carrots, onions, and other veggies.

3. Roast for a smarter snack.

The kale chip craze may be behind us. But roasting your greens remains an easy way to make your own crispy, healthy snacks. All you really need (besides greens) is olive oil, spices, and an oven.

For more specifics, here’s my go-to kale chip formula. (No kale on hand? You can substitute another hardy green, such as collards.)

4. Simmer for a wholesome soup.

If you’re not adding greens to your soups, you’re missing out! For example, this minestrone recipe just isn’t the same without Swiss chard.

In addition to enhancing a dish overall, cooking greens in soup can improve their flavor, as heat tames the bite of bitter greens.

5. Roll for a healthier wrap.

Some greens, such as Swiss chard, collards, and mustard, grow so large it’s like they were meant to serve as wraps.

Try rolling up taco ingredients or tuna salad in your large-leafed greens. Or, for a heartier wrap, check out Karen Hartman’s recipe on page 30 of the Tower Garden Cookbook (PDF).

6. Process into pesto.

Did you know that — in addition to the traditional ingredients — you can add greens to the processer when making pesto?

I recommend trying kale or arugula. Both will enrich the pesto with nutrients and help preserve its vibrant color. (Arugula will also give the pesto a peppery punch.)

7. Grill for an unconventional barbeque.

You might be surprised to learn that you can actually grill certain greens. This recipe suggests using kale, romaine, and radicchio.

I haven’t tried grilling my greens yet. But it looks delicious!

8. Get creative.

When it comes to using your greens, there are many possibilities that don’t fall neatly into the categories above.

You could make chard fritters, for example. Or cook kale into a quiche. Or even make meat-less-balls (a clever way to use up older, wilted greens).

The menu is as big as your imagination.

Do you have a great idea for greens?

Hopefully this list has inspired you to try new and interesting dishes with your garden’s greens. Because growing your own food is fun, and eating it should be, too.

If you have favorite uses for your greens that I missed, please share your suggestions in the comments below!

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