By Harold McGee
Leaves are the quintessential vegetable. They’re usually the most prominent and abundant parts of a plant, and they’re nutritious enough that many of our primate relatives eat little else. The salad of raw greens is a truly primeval dish! People also cook and eat the leaves of many different plants, from weeds to root and fruit crops. In temperate regions, nearly all the tender leaves of spring are edible, and were traditionally a welcome harbinger of the new crops to come after winter’s scarcity; in northeast Italy, for example, pistic is a springtime collection of more than 50 different wild greens boiled and then sauteed together.