Terrible news, green juice drinkers and kale fanatics everywhere -- a global kale shortage might be upon us. We dodged a bullet earlier in the year with the pest that attacked the U.S. kale crop and threatened to wipe it out entirely -- it didn't -- and now Bejo Seeds, a seed company that provides kale seeds to the world, has just sold out. Entirely. No more kale seeds.
We don't mean to be alarmists, but what if, when we woke up tomorrow, there was no more kale left on earth? If your pulse just quickened and you darted to protect your crisper, we'd like to invite you to calm the hell down. There is life after kale, and we've got 10 other amazing leafy greens to prove it.
1. Collard Greens
Collard greens are a staple of southern American cooking, and are finally starting be embraced by the rest of the country. They can be shaved thinly and eaten raw as a salad, sautéed quickly with garlic for a hearty side, but can also stand up to being stewed for a really long time. They also happen to taste really great with bacon and smoked pork hocks.
2. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens are just like turnips: kind of sweet, kind of spicy, kind of bitter, occasionally smelly, but ultimately delicious. Just like kale, they're full of Vitamin K.
Check out the Loveless Café's Turnip Greens recipe:
3. Mustard Greens
If you've never eaten raw mustard greens, be prepared for your first taste: they have a bite. Once cooked, they mellow out, but you can still taste the namesake of this leafy green. Mustards come in curly and flat varieties, red and green, just like kale. But these have way more personality than kale. Because of their peppery bite, mustard greens are usually mixed with other greens for cooking, but we happen to like their ability to knock us out of our chairs.
Get a great Mustard Greens recipe from Simply Recipes (she's a mustard greens lover, so trust her).
4. Swiss Chard
If leafy greens had a beauty pageant, Swiss chard would win every single time. Its naturally-occurring red, yellow, purple and white stalks are dazzling. And its velvety, tender leaves would win the talent contest for certain. Swiss chard cooks more quickly than most other leafy greens (because of its high water content), and its crunchy stems make great pickles.
Oh yeah, remember this stuff? Before everyone fell in love with kale, it was spinach that our parents wanted us to eat before we could have dessert. Spinach is a kitchen workhorse, finding itself just as comfortable in a salad as it does in a soup, sauté or pie.
Get the Spinach Gratin recipe from Food52.
6. Beet Greens
Yes, beet greens are edible! And they are delicious. They taste like beets and kale smashed into each other. Which means that everything that tastes good with kale and beets, also tastes amazing with beet greens. Like garlic and goat cheese and bacon and on and on.
7. Broccoli Rabe
This hearty, bitter green (which we sometimes call rapini) is more closely related to turnips than it is to broccoli, although their family resemblance seems totally undeniable. Italian cuisine has mastered the pairing of rabe with chilies, garlic and sausage.
Don't take our word for it. Listen to Mark Bittman.
8. Dandelion Greens
If you like bitter greens, these are the greens for you. Dandelion greens are also packed with calcium and Vitamin A, and pair uncommonly well with a runny egg yolk. Use small, tender ones for salads and big, stalky ones for sautéing and braising.
We like to think of this delicate, peppery green as arugula's feisty younger sibling. It is lovely as a salad itself, can be puréed into soups for a vibrant hit of green, and also whips into a great pesto.
Get Maricel E. Presilla's Cuban Avocado, Watercress, and Pineapple Salad from Food52.
10. Gai Lan (or Chinese Broccoli)
Gai lan, also known as kai-lan, Chinese broccoli and Chinese kale, tastes like a cross between broccoli rabe and bok choy. It is delicious simply sautéed with garlic, stir-fried with oyster sauce or even simply steamed, if you want to keep things super health-nutty.