Cooking Vegetables | Leafy Greens and Fungi

Leafy Greens And Fungi Vegetables

What is a Leafy Green Vegetable?

The term green refers to a variety of leafy green vegetables that can be served raw or cooked. Salad greens vary greatly in size, shape, color, and flavor. Some are sold as heads and some as individual leaves. Flavor and color often go together -- mild, sweet, pale colored butter and romaine lettuce and spicy, bitter dark green watercress and arugula. Mild flavored greens are relatively neutral and pair well with just about any ingredients. Bitter and spicy greens lend themselves well to more intense flavors such as sweet fruit and ingredients higher in fat like cheese or bacon. Dark, leafy greens are extremely nutritious and very high in many vitamins and minerals.

When purchasing greens either to be eaten raw or cooked, it is best to choose those that are young and tender and are brightly colored and not wilted. You should avoid greens with dry, split stems, yellow or brown leaves, and those that are very wet or have rotted, mushy spots on them. Most greens are available fresh year round. Most greens are best eaten as close to purchase as possible and are best stored in a perforated bag in the refrigerator. Greens are mostly made up of water and tend to go bad within a few days of purchase.

Common types of leafy green vegetables

  • Romaine
  • Arugula
  • Watercress
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Mustard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Collard greens
  • Escarole
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach

Nutritional benefits of leafy greens

This category of vegetables is considered the most nutritious of any veggie and most nutrient dense. Green Leafy vegetables contain high levels of Vitamin K, fiber, magnesium, folic acid, and potassium.

How to Cook Leafy Greens

Cooking greens are frequently used in the Asian and Mediterranean cuisines and are an important part of regional cuisine in the southern United States. Many, such as cabbage, mustard greens, dandelion greens, kale, and collard greens have strong or spicy flavors and some like escarole, chard, and spinach are a bit less intense. All greens have a high water content and shrink in size, often by more than half, when cooked. For this reason, you must purchase a large quantity of greens to end up with a proper portion. The quantity of uncooked greens is deceiving and it is crucial to consider what the cooked portion will look like when adding oil or seasonings, otherwise you may end up with a very oily or over-seasoned dish. Some greens like spinach cook almost instantly and are best done so over high heat. Other greens, particularly those that have tougher leaves and stems, take substantially longer to cook and should be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.

What is a Fungi?

Fungi vegetables are fungal growths like mushrooms and truffles. They tend to have a very delicate texture and require a lot of care when handling and storing. These vegetables types can have a range of flavors from subtle to intense and often are grown in the wild or farm raised for size and type.

Common types of fungi

  • Button (White) mushrooms
  • Shiitake
  • Mitake (Hen of the woods mushrooms)
  • Truffles
  • Chanterelle
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Portobello
  • Crimini

Nutritional benefits of fungi

Fungi vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and can be one of the best ways to maintain a healthy body, immune system and overall good wellbeing. Mushrooms tend to be high in Vitamin D, riboflavin, selenium, niacin, potassium and ergothionene.

How to cook fungi vegetables

Most fungi can be eaten raw or cooked. You can cook these vegetables in any way that you like including, stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, grilling, broiling, and frying.


  • "Benefits", Fresh Mushrooms, Nature's Hidden Treasure, 2013,

About the Author

Daniella Malfitano is a chef, entrepreneur, author of six digital cookbooks (available on and Amazon and iTunes), TV host and creator of the PBS television series "Delicious Discoveries with Daniella Malfitano" and educator for her traveling cooking and wellness company Delicious Discoveries. Daniella is always available for cooking demos, culinary workshops, public speaking engagements as well as culinary consulting, culinary business development, and brand ambassador partnerships with brands that are in alignment with her passion for local, healthy food. Daniella's passion and enthusiasm for food is contagious and it is evident in everything that she does! For more information visit or email