Nava Atlas's most recent cookbook, 'Wild About Greens' is both timely and useful, with 125 delectable vegan recipes for leafy veggies everyone should love.
I say "should" because we all know by now that we need to eat more green leafy vegetables since they're so nutritious and vital for our health.
But when you're at the grocery store, suspiciously eyeing a bunch of green stuff you can't name, never mind cook, and you're sure you'll hate, you tend to mutter "Maybe next time" and head for the frozen peas.
'Wild About Greens' begins with the health benefits of green leafy vegetables - all the juicy reasons why they're the most nutritious of veggies and essential to all aspects of your health. If you aren't quite convinced you need to eat greens, read that page!
The introduction also includes buying & preparation tips, plus how to freeze and dehydrate greens (think kale chips). That's followed by 17 pages of descriptions of green leafy veggies, along with Nava's beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, and lists of recipes in which they appear.
In 5 nutrition packed chapters, Nava Atlas tells you all about how to cook greens tasty and attractive, from the most simple steamed or wilted greens to delicious green based soups, stews and salads.
I have to confess that there were quite a few of those greens that I never bother eating. Nava has made them more familiar, and encouraged me to branch out from my usual chard, arugula, spinach, collards, kale and bak choy, and try delicacies like watercress, mizuna and radish greens.
Chapter 1 eases the reader into greens with basic preparation techniques: simple sautés, braised greens, easy sauces to serve with greens, stir-fries - even grilled greens!
When new beets with bunches of leaves attached were all over the farmers market, I cooked Sweet & Citrusy Beets with Their Greens from page 55, with a sweet glaze. I've never eaten such tasty beets!
I often make beans and grains with greens, but again, in Chapter 2, I found many new ideas I'm eager to try, such as Collard-Wrapped Yellow Rice & Black Bean Enchiladas on page 108.
Salads, Dressings and Dips also expanded my green horizons. Kale Cucumber Salad with Avocado Tahini Dressing on pg 151 was a big hit - we picked those two as our sample recipes from 'Wild About Greens'. Spinach or Arugula & Miso Pesto on pg 171 also sounds divine.
I grow three different types of kale, and eat it regularly, in many different dishes, but have never added it to salads, until I heard from Nava about massaging it to soften and make it easy to chew. I've also discovered that kale is wonderful juiced or in smoothies.
Chapter 5, Green Juices & Smoothies compares two processes and benefits. Both methods of liquefying veggies are good. However, to make good green smoothies you need a powerful (and expensive) blender, such as a Vitamix or Blend-Tec.
I've been making veggie juices and smoothies. I love them - they're a vitamin lightning bolt. My basic inexpensive Braun juicer accepts kale and beets while my basic Oster blender works very very hard. But Nava's right, there's a lot of clean-up involved in juicing. I'm beginning to think there may be a Vitamix in my near future!
I highly recommend 'Wild About Greens' by veteran vegan cookbook author Nava Atlas, with photographs by the talented Susan Voisin. It's one of those cookbooks that every cook should own, as it makes green leafy veggies a creative cooking and eating adventure.
After reading 'Wild About Greens,' when you head to the grocery store, you'll gaze happily at all the familiar green leafy veggies and take home lovely armloads, knowing just what tasty dishes you're going to make - and forget all about the frozen peas.