Greens that will do the job in place of fresh spinach

September 20, 2006|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun reporter

With the investigation into an outbreak of E. coli linked to fresh spinach, folks are looking for other dark, leafy greens to fill out their plates. Here's a quick guide to spinach substitutes:

Arugula: Its tender leaves resemble spinach, but pack a peppery taste that can range from barely there to bracing.

Chard: The dark-green leaves of this member of the beet family can stand in for spinach. The darker the leaves and redder the stalks, the stronger the flavor, says Sharon Tyler Herbst in The New Food Lover's Companion.

Dandelion greens: These sharp-edged greens have a slightly bitter taste, similar to chicory.

Kale: Sturdy kale may not replicate spinach's tender texture in salads, but it's a great green for sautes, soups and stews.

Mache: Also called lamb's lettuce and field lettuce, this has a nutlike flavor, Herbst says.

Watercress: A delicate green with peppery flavor, this is good in salads, soups or as a garnish.

Handling greens

To reduce the risk of illness, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends bagging fresh produce separately from other foods and kitchen utensils that will be used on other foods.

Cut away bruised or rotten spots. Thoroughly wash just before eating or cooking, and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. (At press time, the FDA was warning consumers not to eat fresh spinach or products that contain it.)

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