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It may be one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, but only recently has orach been attracting attention as a superfood alternative to spinach and chard. Rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and a slew of vitamins and minerals, orach commonly comes in red- and green-leafed varieties that work especially well in raw or steamed recipes. Mild and chardlike in flavor, orach tastes slightly saltier than some other greens because minerals from the saline soil it grows in are stored within its leaves. When shopping for red orach, look for tender leaves with a ruby-red sheen.
In Season: Orach is a cool-season green available during the winter months beginning in January at farmers’ markets and gourmet grocers.
Store It: Refrigerate unwashed orach in a bag and use within a few days (wash immediately before use).
Market Names: Mountain spinach, French spinach, saltbush
Prep It: Rinse in a cold water bath. Spin leaves dry in a salad spinner or gently pat dry.
Eat It: The delicate leaves of this spicy green are eaten raw in salads with mild or sweet greens such as spinach or lettuce. Orach is also delicious when cooked alone or used like cabbage leaves and prepared with a savory stuffing. But like beets, the leaves of the red variety can color your entire cooked dish a bright pink!
Health Benefits: The magenta-colored leaves are bursting with antioxidant anthocyanin pigments, which can enhance visual acuity and may help reduce cancer cell growth. In addition to containing calcium, iron and magnesium, orach also contains a healthy dose of vitamin C, an immunity-booster that helps to keep wrinkles and other signs of aging at bay.
See also: How to Grow Microgreens All Winter Long