Widen your leafy green horizon with these up-and-coming superfoods!
Looking to add a dose of freshness to your summer diet? Celebrate sunny days with the latest super greens and you’ll reap some pretty amazing health rewards. Don’t know your mizuna (Japanese mustard) from your red mustard? How about your Persian cress from your pea shoots? These exotic leaves are springing up everywhere from farmers markets to organic delis – and even high-street supermarkets, thanks to the nation’s insatiable appetite for salads. The right combination of ingredients can transform a mundane salad into something quite spectacular. At the core of every truly scrumptious salad is the base – a bed of tasty, nutrient-rich leaves that offer the wow factor. This type of well-balanced salad is the perfect way to liven up a lunchbox or a summer supper, and the latest additions to the salad scene are just as exciting as they are nutritious. So power up your plate with these crunchy superstars and banish tastebud boredom for good!
1 Baby kale
The lowdown: This summer there’s a brand new way to get your kale fix! The UK’s number one superfood has a new sibling that’s causing a stir in health circles. Great for sprucing up green smoothies to summer salads, baby kale is super-sweet and slightly more delicate than its frilly-leafed counterpart.
Nutritional need-to-know: Bursting with skin-loving vitamin A and bone-boosting vitamin K, baby kale is also rich in calcium and folic acid.
Top recipe: Paprika-spiced baby kale crisps: Spread a packet of baby kale onto an oven-proof tray and lightly coat in coconut oil. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 135C for 25 minutes or until crunchy.
2 Persian Cress
The lowdown: Stuck in a salad rut? Take your tastebuds to the Middle East with Persian cress. This newcomer to the greens pack is a pretty looking, tender leaf and a distant cousin of watercress that originates from Iran.
Nutritional need-to-know: A 60g serving of this flavour-crammed superfood contains 34 per cent of the RDA for immunity-supporting folic acid and 37 per cent of the recommendation for vitamin A.
Top recipe: Egg mayo flatbread: Spread a layer of low-fat mayonnaise on a wholemeal flatbread. Slice one hard-boiled egg and arrange on the flatbread with a handful of Persian Cress and two sliced cherry tomatoes. Fold the flatbread and cut into two.
3 Baby watercress
The lowdown: Baby watercress makes a brilliant salad base. Like regular watercress, it’s bright and bitter with a creamy texture. The only difference is that it’s cut earlier so it’s less stalky.
Nutritional need-to-know: Baby watercress is loaded with vitamin C and betacarotene, two important nutrients for skin health.
Top recipe: Tuna salad: Top a bunch of baby watercress with 120g tinned tuna, 5 black olives and 4 cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
4 Pea shoots
The lowdown: These mild-tasting shoots of the garden pea plant are super-yummy and versatile. The delicate leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
Nutritional need-to-know: This nourishing leaf is a nutrition winner. Chomping on a 50g serving offers more than half the RDA for vitamin C, and a quarter of the RDA for vitamin A. What’s not to like?
Top recipe: Lentil & pea shoot salad. Combine half a tin of Puy lentils with a handful of peas, parsley, coriander and pea shoots. Dress in lemon juice and olive oil.
5 Baby red chard
The lowdown: With its crimson-tinged leaves, baby red chard simply steals the salad show. As a member of the Swiss chard family, these little leaves are subtle, earthy and packed with goodness.
Nutritional need-to-know: The red pigment in baby red chard comes from betalin, a compound that helps detox toxins from your body.
Top recipe: Lemon baby red chard: Pan-fry a bunch of baby red chard with 1 diced red onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, juice of half a lemon and crushed black pepper.
The lowdown: Every bit as exotic as it sounds, tatsoi is a key ingredient in Asian cuisine. Similar to pack choi, tatsoi has a subtle, mustardy flavour.
Nutritional need-to-know: Complexion-perfecting vitamins A and C are the main nutrients contained in tatsoi.
Top recipe: Steamed balsamic tatsoi: Lightly steam a handful of tatsoi and dress with a balsamic dressing made with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp olive oil.
7 Baby spinach
The lowdown: With smaller, sweeter leaves than fully matured spinach leaves, baby spinach adds a little bit of magic to an otherwise standard salad bowl.
Nutritional need to know: Baby spinach is thought to be a more concentrated source of nutrients such as vitamin C and antioxidant flavonoids than traditional spinach.
Top recipe: Baby spinach pesto pasta: Cook 50g wholemeal pasta. Stir in 1 tbsp fresh pesto sauce, a handful of baby spinach, 30g cubed mozzarella and 4 cherry tomatoes, halved.
8 Red mustard
The lowdown: Fire up your lunchbox with red mustard leaves. Offering bags of pungent, peppery flavour, red mustard leaves are a staple of Asian cooking.
Nutritional need-to-know: These pungent leaves are thought to give your liver a kickstart by boosting your body’s natural detoxification capacity.
Top recipe: Sautéed Red Mustard Leaves: Sautee the leaves in a drizzle of olive oil and crushed garlic and serve as a side dish.
The lowdown: Add some kick to your salad with spicy mizuna. Otherwise known as Japanese mustard, this oriental green boasts feather-like leaves and packs a wonderful peppery punch.
Nutritional need-to-know: Noshing on mizuna could help to fight fatigue as it’s a good source of iron.
Top recipe: Prawn stir-fry: Cook a bag of stir-fry vegetables in 1 tbsp soy sauce. Add 100g cooked prawns, juice of half a lime and a handful of mizuna. Serve with courgette ribbons.