On my first trip to Greece I was introduced to the delights of horta. The local market was packed with towering piles of wild greens – some bitter, and some like “vlita” sweet. At the market, my mother in-law-to-be (not that either of us knew that was to be at the time!) had selected an abundant bright green bouquet. At home, she soaked the leaves in a big sink full of cold water. After drying them, she carefully removed any of the dry, woody stalks and plunged the selected leaves and stalks into an enormous pot of boiling water. I was presented with a delicious bowl of greens, slick with fruity olive oil and a tang of lemon. Not only was this a delicious dish but with every mouth full I felt like I was doing my body a giant favour – an instant vitamin boost!
Back at home in Australia, the recent winter sunshine has produced a bumper crop of greens in my father in law’s garden. There is silvery curly kale, bright and cheery rainbow chard and elegant, dark velvety Tuscan kale. While we may not have the same varieties of wild greens here that I had tried in Greece, the sweet broccoli leaves of the garden have provided a delicious alternative. If you are looking for a great alternative for wild greens from your local market try the big, leafy tops of the gorgeous beetroot, which is also in season. On a crisp wintery evening serve your horta with a side bowl of plump kalamata olives and a few cubes of the feta of your choice.