A guide to green vegetables

  • The List
  • 21 April 2010
A guide to green vegetables

Historic records indicate that we once ate food fresh from places near where we lived, such as back gardens and local farms, thus cutting down on the need to transport food across the globe and avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Here’s a handy seasonal guide to retro green eating, 21st century style. Thanks to Edinburgh’s Real Foods for providing specimens


Last century: Came in tins; tasted like green sludge; made you strong.
This century: Grows easily; tastes perky, particularly when squeaky fresh; makes you strong.
What do I do with it? Grow it yourself and mix young leaves in salads
Get it from: Window boxes, farmers’ markets.

Wild Garlic
Last century: Smelly stuff that grows in woods
This century: A pungent must-have for the rustic gourmet. Get foraging!
What do I do with it? Use it in anything instead of garlic; wrap it around baking fish or lamb; make soup or pesto.
Get it from: Smelly, sorry, pungent woods, bicycle path undergrowth.

Cavalo Nero
Last century: Exotic Italian stuff, trucked across Europe.
This century: It’s the same as kale, which grows here in abundance.
What do I do with it? Douse it in boiling water, drain, then slap in a hot frying pan with olive oil and garlic.
Get it from: Phantassie Organics veg boxes (www.phantassie.co.uk).

Last century: Weed that grows in streams.
This century: Superfood, beloved of Liz Hurley and the fad-diet set
What do I do with it? Mix in the peppery leaves with milder lettuce in salads; blitz big batches into creamy soup.
Get it from: Real Foods, Edinburgh (www.realfoods.co.uk) Roots and Fruits, Byres Road, Glasgow.

Last century: Perennial veg, grown somewhere in the world.
This century: A vegetable that doesn’t grow all year round – in fact, it’s coming to the end of its season in the UK.
What do I do with it: Cook slowly and softly into a silky, caramelized slush; a stalwart of any home-made stock (and cock-a-leekie soup, of course).
Get it from: November through to April.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Last century: Pig fodder – pigs not being fed soya meal, that is.
This century: Better than broccoli; as much a harbinger of spring as daffodils and April showers.
What do I do with it? Steam it briefly then munch whole stalks like cheat’s asparagus.
Get it from: Local organic box schemes.