In one of his daily shows, Dr. Mehmet Oz talked about super foods and explained the benefits. One of the super foods he mentioned was “Greek greens,” otherwise known as horta. On the island of Crete, the tradition of foraging for wild greens can be traced back to Neolithic times. It is one of the nutritional secrets of the Mediterranean diet.
The weed-like greens are hardy and have extra-potent sources of vitamins and minerals. In San Diego, we have the benefit of having local seasonal Greek greens always available, such as spinach, Swiss chard, curly endive, lacinato kale, mustard greens and beet, turnip and radish tops. Often some of the greens such as Lamb’s Quarters show up at farmer’s markets because they sprout like weeds amongst other crops and the farmers have learned there is a market for them.
According to Dr. Oz, Greek greens are a superfood and should be consumed as much as possible, if not daily.
Traditionally they are prepared by boiling in a small amount of water until they are tender, then dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. In Crete, they serve horta with the nutrient-rich broth which then becomes “salsa” for dipping bread into. It is a common lunch item or side dish for dinner and features whatever edible green item is available from the fields or gardens.
As a child visiting my Greek grandparent’s house in Ohio, I remember seeing the horta on the table at almost every meal.
In the Spring, they would frequently enlist the whole family to gather dandelion greens, sometimes walking miles to an undeveloped field with the coveted weeds jutting up from the nutrient-rich soil.
Their search for Greek greens served as a link to the old country and culture of Crete while providing their family a highly nutritious super food.