When we lived in West Africa, we were introduced to a local leaf vegetable similar to spinach. Our people actually cooked with several different kinds of greens, some of which were sour, some slimey, and mostly a bit difficult for our Western taste buds. :-) But one plant was quite delicious, perhaps even a milder taste than spinach. It was by far the cheapest and most easily available vegetable in our location, so I learned how to use it regularly! Greens are so good for you, too.

The preparation time for vegetables, especially greens, can be significant. So this is a task I turned over to our house-help. She would go to market (or to a friend nearby) and bring back a huge bag of greens. Then she would spend the entire morning washing and chopping. We found that washing the leaves three times worked best for avoiding bits of sand in our food. :-) Once she had huge bowls piled with chopped greens, we began the process of blanching them all. Using a steamer, we cooked the greens in batches just for about 3 minutes, until the leaves were wilted down. Then we cooled them down, packaged in 1 cup baggies, and put them in the freezer. A morning's work would yeild about 30 packages of greens in the freezer!

I used these greens just like frozen spinach in the States. Since they were chopped small, I found that I could put a small amount in almost any dish and my kids would eat it. Actually, because I started puting spinach in things when they were just babies, both of my boys grew up loving it! When we came back to the States and didn't have anything with spinach in it for several weeks, my 3 year old started asking for it. :-) Here's a quick list (not exhaustive) of the dishes I would add greens to . . . 

regular pizza

chicken alfredo pizza

spaghetti or lasagna

chicken gravy over biscuits

macaroni and cheese

curry (this I would make with greens as the main vegetable. I'll share the recipe later!)

fried rice

scrambled eggs/omlets

peanut butter soup (a local recipe)

And of course, you can also cook them with a little butter and salt as a side dish for all kinds of chicken or fish dishes!

Lastly, a recipe from our local food, made with lots of greens. This was a big favorite of my husband's, and I made it almost weekly!

Creamy Greens Stew

1 chopped onion

1/2 c. oil

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 c. water

4 c. fresh greens

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 c. pounded nuts or seeds (you can use natural peanut butter or almond butter here in the States)

salt & red pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil, then add tomato for a few minutes. Add water, fresh greens and garlic. Cook until greens are soft. Then add nut paste, salt and red pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve over steamed rice. Serves 4.

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