Saturday, November 17, 2012

Perennial Greens

We cling to our own point of view, 
as though everything depended on it.  
Yet our opinions have no permanence; 
like autumn and winter, 
they gradually pass away.
swiss chard
With the coming of the rain, the greens in the garden are popping.  All the kale, cabbage, collards, and broccoli are steadily growing but it is the perennial greens that we tend to rely on daily.  This time of year the chard, purple tree collards, and Malabar spinach become the mainstay of green vegetables in our diet.  

Swiss chard is such a versatile vegi, you can use it in salads, stir fries, soups, or in any way you would use spinach.  To make the savory treats above, saute an onion and fresh garlic with a large bunch of chard.  Wrap generous spoonfuls of the mixture up in filo brushed with lots of butter and olive oil.  Baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and you have the most amazing flaky little hand pies.  Serve with a lentil or chicken soup for a comforting meal on a cold evening.  

purple tree collards

I am becoming a firm believer that everyone should plant at least a few  purple tree collards in their garden.  These greens are a bit tougher than swiss chard but have such longevity in the garden and are so useful for feeding the family as well as any livestock.  Fed to the chickens, they make the yolks bright orange.  One of my favorite uses for tree collards is to make chips, like kale chips only better!

Purple Tree Collard Chips
-1 large bunch tree collards or kale
-2 tbls miso
-1 1/2 tbls. tahini
-2 tbls. olive oil
-1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
-1/2 tsp. granulated onion
(you can also add sunflower seed butter, cashew butter, cumin, shredded coconut, etc.)

Wash and chop greens into small pieces and dry well.  In a large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.  Add chopped greens and toss into the dressing mixing well to coat all pieces.  Arrange on dehydrator racks and dry until crisp.  You can also dry on a baking sheet in the oven on low or warm but check often as the oven can cook them instead of just dehydrating.  Once cool store in glass jars and enjoy as an inexpensive, healthy snack.  

malabar spinach

Malabar spinach is a perennial vine found in the tropics.  We have observed that it does love heat but is also thriving in this cool wet weather.  Although we are just beginning to get acquainted with this vegetable we have found it to be tasty, hardy, versatile, and I have heard it makes an awesome substitute for spinach in the Indian dish saag paneer.  So far we are enjoying harvesting handfuls of the tender leaves just before dinner time to enhance our meal.  

What are some perennial greens you find useful in your garden?


  1. That last one isn't malabar spinach, its perinnial buckwheat (Fagopyrum dibotrys). I love using it in place of spinach & is great in salads and green smoothies.

  2. Thanks, your totally right! I traded someone for that plant and was told it was malabar spinach but now that I look at the pics of the malabar leaves they are quite different. Still yummy all the same:).

  3. do you have any purple tree collard cuttings to sell?