If you’re anything like me, your fridge is a wreck and has been since approximately this time last year. Cleaning out the refrigerator (especially in the midst of a pandemic) is an onerous task to begin with, but once you start digging through the piles of greens that have been slowly rotting in your vegetable drawer, it gets downright awful.
There is truly no other ingredient so essential yet so fleeting as the humble green. Whether a delicate soft herb or the bunches of kale you bracingly convince yourself you’ll eat, greens are there one day and rot the next. In my kitchen, they’re the number one culprit of foods that I find myself throwing away too often.
To extend their life, I’ve come up with five easy ways to use up the greens that may be past their prime before they get too far gone.
1. Freeze them
Blend your herbs with a bit of olive oil and pop them into your favorite ice cube molds. Freeze them, then pop them out of the tray and store in the freezer until you need a quick burst of flavor! Use the olive oil infused with frozen herbs to start recipes like chili, pasta sauce and more.
2. Make easy pesto
This “pesto recipe” skips the pine nuts, making it cheaper and faster to throw together. Whatever herbs you decide to use will work here, and so will greens like blanched chard, kale, spinach, or even a tiny bit of arugula. Use herbs that are a little bit past their prime in this recipe to avoid throwing them away — the lemon juice will preserve the flavor and texture. Add the stems to this one, too! Just nothing too hard or you’ll be chewing through this pesto for days. I use this recipe on grilled cheese, pasta and even as a pizza dip!
3. Add them to smoothies
Despite my best efforts, a small, half serving of wilted kale emerges from my veggie crisper. When this happens, whether with kale or spinach or mint, I pat myself on the back and reassure myself I’ll try harder next time, and then throw the bags in the freezer. When I make my next smoothie, I add a dose of greens or sweet herbs to the blender and shake up my routine.
4. Stir them into soup
Whether you’re learning how to make your own broth and want to include some herbaceous flavors or looking for a way to jazz up your grandma’s chicken soup recipe, stirring in cilantro, parsley, kale, or chard is a great way to do so. The herbs wilt slightly with the heat, so you don’t notice if they’re a few days past their prime.
5. Make a tasty Greek treat
Spanakopita is a Greek baked casserole dish that traditionally uses blanched spinach to create the filling for this tasty treat. Use elderly spinach or kale that you have on hand or spike it with parsley, cilantro, or basil to add a new flavor dimension!
Learn how to work with leafy greens so that they don't go to waste in these upcoming classes:
- Virtual Mushroom and Spinach Risotto Thursday, February 25 6pm CST
- Virtual Sunday Dinner: Cacio e Pepe Sunday, February 28 4pm CST
- Tuscan Feast IN-PERSON at Lincoln Square Friday, March 5 6:30pm
- How to Make Neapolitan and Deep Dish Pizza IN-PERSON at Lincoln Square Sunday, March 14 11am
- Virtual Fish en Papillote Friday, March 19 7pm CST