Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Other shades of greens

Beyond the lettuce leaf and more

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Mizuna: Originally from Japan, mizuna is a winner just sitting there because the leaf is so beautiful. Serrated, with long narrow lobes, it reminds me of a stretched out citronella leaf. Also known as Japanese mustard or Japanese greens, there are a number of varieties, some of them red. Generally, mizuna has a mild peppery flavour, much like arugula minus the nutty element. This isn't surprising given it's from the same family. Never mind salads, a friend of mine will cook up a bunch of pasta, dump in good olive oil, then sprinkle it with minced garlic, good grated parmesan (not from the Kraft shaker) and pine nuts, then pile on a bunch of raw mizuna and gobble it down. Delicious.

Sorrel: Just days ago, Stefan Butler from Good Time Farming in Squamish taught me to love sorrel. He tucked a few leaves into his bag of stir-fry greens, which we haven't fried at all. Instead, we're picking through the bag — such a deal for five bucks! — washing off a few leaves and using them as we like, raw, to zing up salads and sandwiches. Stefan grows garden sorrel as a perennial, but you can find the plant growing wild. It will either be mountain sorrel, native to B.C., or sheep sorrel, introduced from Europe. All are tart — think lemon-lime. I loved it shredded thinly and mixed with fresh leaf-lettuce from a greenhouse in Abbotsford. Try a simple dressing, like grapeseed oil and an orange-champagne vinaigrette. The leaves, which are rich in vitamin C, get their zing from oxalic acid ("sorrel" is from the French "surrelle" meaning "sour").

Carrot tops: Thanks to Stefan, we also learned that we can eat carrot tops — and radish tops, too, for that matter, although I didn't really like the latter. Mind you, we tried them raw, not stir-fried as recommended, so I should give them a proper go. The carrot tops, though, are wonderful straight up! Which made me wonder, why the heck have we been throwing them out all these years? I'll wait for older carrots to see if their tops are as nice, but these young tops from Good Time are tender, fragrant, and a bit carroty — perfect minced into a salad, much like parsley. The baby carrots, turnips and radishes were even more exquisite — something of a miracle that they were ready for eating now.

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