When I talk about food, I inevitably start talking about colors. I often praise the orange foods, professing my love of sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and satsuma mandarins. Red is another treasured color, represented by strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and bell peppers. But at the end of the day, I find that the best food color is green.
Green boasts the cruciferous wonders of broccoli and brussels sprouts, the emerald beauties of green grapes and kiwi, the mighty avocado and, of course, the myriad of leafy vegetables commonly referred to as greens—spinach, collards and kale, to name a few. String beans, snap peas, zucchini, cucumbers, asparagus and celery are other lucky members of the green food family. To this list I add my favorite Asian vegetables: bok choy and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). In the fruit department, we have Anjou pears, honeydew melon, Granny Smith apples, limes.
What’s more, the bounty of green food extends beyond fruits and vegetables. Many culinary herbs are also green; I think of basil, oregano, rosemary, mint. With regard to protein, I adore pistachios, pumpkin seeds and edamame. The color green even lays claim to one of the trendiest superfoods of our time: matcha. Green is such a notorious food color, it even manages to be featured in Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book, “Green Eggs and Ham.”
The diverse array of green foods allows for a wide variety of recipes that feature green ingredients. I find great visual satisfaction in creating dishes that center on a singular color, and green food is perfect for such masterpieces. Furthermore, the verdant versatility of the following recipes reveals the ability of green foods to satisfy at any meal of the day. Be it a nutrient-packed breakfast smoothie, delicate lunch salad, nourishing dinner stir-fry or an ethereal matcha dessert, green foods deliver flavorful and fun fare for all occasions!
Green smoothies increasingly grace the shelves of health food aisles and corner cafes, but they are equally easy to create at home! This recipe uses a broad flavor spectrum of green foods: tart apples, sweet kiwis, bitter lime, refreshing mint and spinach to lend additional vitamins.
- 1 green apple, diced
- 1 kiwi, diced
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2-3 cups spinach
- Leaves of mint, to taste
- Sweetener (i.e. agave), to taste
- Handful of ice
Blend everything together! Taste and adjust flavoring.
Spring Green Stir-fry
Stir-fries are one of the best ways to include lots of different vegetables, and this spring mix includes greens, asparagus, two types of peas and edamame for protein. Flavorful (and green!) scallions add a bit of kick to help meld the flavors into a delicious light dinner dish.
- Kosher salt
- 3 cups (9-1/2 oz.) sugar snap peas, cleaned
- 14 oz. (1 bunch) asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
- 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 6 oz. (about 1/2 bunch) rainbow chard, stems cut into 1-inch pieces on a diagonal, leaves coarsely chopped
- 5 cups (5 oz.) baby spinach
- 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 oz. (1 bunch) scallions, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic, season with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and asparagus. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes.
- Add peas and edamame, and cook for 3-5 minutes more. Add chard and spinach, and stir until greens are wilted. Transfer to a large platter and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, adjust to taste.
Light Green Salad
I love green foods because they come in so many different shades, from the deep forest of collards to the pale jade of kiwi flesh. This salad features the lighter end of the green spectrum, with butter lettuces, cucumbers, avocado and pistachios.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. honey
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large head butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1/4 c crushed pistachios
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, honey, 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper.
Cut or tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces, and add to a large bowl, along with the cucumbers. Toss with just enough dressing to coat lightly. Add avocado and pistachios, toss lightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with any remaining dressing on the side.
Matcha Roll Cake
Compared to its dominance in vegetable dishes, the color green makes considerably fewer appearances in the pages of dessert cookbooks. However, with the rise of matcha in bakeries and cafes across the country, green finally has a chance to shine in sweet treats such as this fluffy roulade.
- For Swiss Roll Cake:
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup fine sugar
- 1/2 cup cake Flour plus 2 tsp matcha powder
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
To make the filling:
Whip the cream with sugar until creamy and thick. Keep in the refrigerator to chill.
To Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 230 Celsius or 440 Fahrenheit. Grease a 10″ x 12″ rectangle pan and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg yolks and 1/2 the sugar until thick and pale. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white.
Fold in the flour mixture and melted butter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and let it cool for 10 minutes.
To Assemble the Cake:
Remove the cake on the piece of parchment paper. Spread a clean dish towel over the cake and gently roll it. Let sit for 10 min to hold the shape. Unroll the cake and spread an even layer of cream onto the cake. Roll up the cake from the long end. Once it is firmly rolled up, cover and refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving.