Greens can make or break a meal. Choosing peppery arugula instead of earthy spinach can throw other flavors into a tailspin. Before you reach for a handful of these leafy vegetables at the market this week, know your greens: their flavors, substitutions, and dishes they complement. This guide will help you navigate through these six common greens.
Taste: this pleasantly pungent and peppery green is also known as rocket, roquette, rugula, and rucola. It is a staple of Italian fare and often found in mesclun (young tender greens) salad mixes, where it behaves like a cross between lettuce and herb.
Smart Substitutions: Watercress, endive, or young mustard greens.
Recipe Idea: Arugula is great on its own as a salad base, atop sandwiches or pizza, or mixed in with pasta. The peppery taste can jazz up virtually any bland lunch or dinner. Take this peppery shrimp pasta for instance; the arugula adds a herby pepper taste to this dish.
Taste: It has a slightly bitter taste and a prickly texture.
Smart Substitutions: Escarole, mustard greens, arugula, or spinach.
Recipe Idea: Belgian endive does have a strong flavor and can easily be the star of the show in a main dish. You can roast it whole, stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, or slice it thin to add to a salad with a milder base, such as spinach. The leaves form a bowl shape, making it easy to use as an aestetically pleasing appetizer idea, like in the recipe below.
Taste: Like its relative, Belgian endive, it's slightly bitter. Choose young, tender leaves for raw salads.
Smart Substitutions: Mesclun, mustard greens, arugula, or spinach.
Recipe Idea: Escarole is great raw in salads or cooked in Italian pastas and soups. Try sautéing with olive oil and garlic for an easy, healthy side. Or try this delicious soup, which is one of our top-rated recipes.
Taste: As a member of the mustard family, it's peppery with a slight mustard taste.
Smart Substitutions: Arugula.
Recipe Idea: Watercress is popular in soups, where is adds a flavor boost to bland broths; seafood dishes, where it accentuates the tender fish and shellfish; and salads, where it provides a tasty alternative to iceberg or romaine lettuce. This 4-ingredient (plus salt and pepper) meal demonstrates how easy and fast this tasty green is to work with.
Taste: Also known as curly endive, these lacy greens are slightly bitter.
Smart Substitutions: Pea shoots, radicchio, and mâche.
Recipe Idea: Often referred to as chicory in the United States, this green is suited for salads. Fill your bowl up with this gourmet veggie for a French-inspired salad. Add boiled egg, bacon, goat cheese, or anything that will mesh well with the crunchy, bitter leaves. Check out the salad below for starters.
Recipe Idea: Perfect for dips, casseroles, sides, salads - you name it. This truly versatile green is a perfect base for any meal - raw or cooked. While baby spinach is more expensive, the stems don't have to be removed, which will save you time when preparing. This mild and healthy veggie won't overpower already-flavorful dishes, such as this dip.