While some trees mark the shifting of the seasons through the changing colours of their leaves: from vibrant green in Summer through reds, oranges and yellows of Autumn to brown as the Winter approaches, there are others that remain green all year round. Likewise, there are green vegetables for every season. In summer we enjoy the freshness of asparagus, peas, beans and zucchini. From early Autumn right through to early Spring we embrace the health-giving benefits of dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Green vegetables are packed with anti-oxidant nutrients including beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. In addition, dark green leafy vegetables (Silverbeet, Kale, Cavolo nero/Tuscan cabbage, spinach, beetroot leaves, rocket etc) are an excellent source of fibre, folate, vitamin K, iron and calcium.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water soluble B group vitamin. It is known as Folate in it’s natural state as it occurs in food, and as “Folic Acid” when it is added to fortified foods or prepared as a nutritional supplement.
Folate is used in the production of red and white blood cells, the conversion of carbohydrates into energy and in the production of DNA and RNA. Folate may reduce the risks of mental decline, obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Adequate intake of folate is essential during periods of growth and development such as pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. Inadequate intake during pregnancy may result in neural tube birth defects.
Folate deficiency may result from inadequate dietary intake, as a result of poor absorption or due to a health condition that requires extra folate.
The best food sources of folate are dark green leafy vegetables, chicken/beef liver, legumes, eggs, avocado and cabbage.
An important note here. If you are a vegetarian looking to get your iron from green leafy vegetables it is better not to eat them with dairy foods. Calcium binds to iron and inhibits it absorption.
It is always good to add a squeeze of lemon to leafy greens to improve the absorption of iron.
Leafy Green Pie with Spelt Crust:
2 cups spelt flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter (chilled; cut into a 2cm dice)
7 tbsp. ice water (or less)
Put your mixing bowl in the freezer and allow them to chill, for at least 20 minutes. The secret to producing a flaky crust, especially when using a high-protein flour like spelt, is to keep your ingredients as cold as possible.
Lightly sift together the spelt flour and the salt in your chilled mixing bowl. Coarsely cut the butter pieces into the flour using the knife attachment of your food processor, a pastry blender or two knives, until the particles of the mixture are the size of small lentils. Use a fork to mix in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough begins to pull together into a mass.
Transfer the shortcrust pastry to a lightly floured counter and very lightly knead it over upon itself three times. Return to the mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the dough to rest.
Grease a 24cm x 3.5 cm tart tin or pie dish.
Remove pastry from the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface and roll out pastry to about 3mm. Alternatively you can place the dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll it out.
Press the pastry into the prepared pan. Blind bake pastry at 180C for 20 minutes, remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for another 7 minutes.
(This recipe is adapted from The Spruce Eats, who have some wonderful recipes www.thespruceeats.com )
Leafy Green Pie
1 bunch of silver beet or 300g mix of leafy green vegetables (Choose spinach, silverbeet, kale, Tuscan cabbage/Cavolo nero, beetroot leaves). Wash then remove stems and finely slice, roughly chop leaves.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Large (4 small) cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp lemon juice 15g Butter 2 Leeks, washed and finely sliced 300 ml Thickened cream 4 Large eggs, lightly beaten 1/2 Tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper 100g Fetta cheese coarsely crumbled
100g Vintage cheddar cheese, grated
1. Heat olive oil in a pot over a low heat and add 1 clove crushed garlic. Allow the garlic to warm but not brown, then add the sliced silverbeet stalks and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the leaves and the lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, mix together and then cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes until leaves are wilted and soft. Set aside to cool.
2. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the leeks and 1 clove of crushed garlic. Season and sweat over a low heat until soft.
3. Squeeze as much water out of the leafy greens as you can. Chop and add to the leeks.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together the cream and eggs, season and add nutmeg.
5. Put the vegetable mixture into the tart case and sprinkle on the fetta cheese.
6. Slowly pour over the egg mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the top.
7. Put into the oven at 180C and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until just set in the middle and browned on top.
8. Leave to rest for 15 minutes – the tart will continue to cook a little in the residual heat.
9. Serve with a fresh green salad and a squeeze of lemon.
*For a dairy-free pie replace dairy with alternatives such as coconut cream, cashew cheese etc.