~ No matter where you live--even if snow still covers the ground, amazing things are occuring right under the surface of the soil--and--some things have already emerged for Spring, or have been there under the snow all winter. SPRING GREENS are what our ancestors relished after months of root cellar offerings. If you grow chives, their new, tender shoots will be harvestable in the next few weeks--as will garlic mustard leaves, tiny nettles, chickweed, violet leaves, fiddleheaf ferns, cowslips and dandelion greens. Aside from providing some long awaited fresh food, all these plants help the liver cleanse itself from a winter's diet of fatty foods and a more sedentary lifestyle. They get the blood flowing, provide quick energy and many vitamins/minerals. Baby greens are also called "micro greens"--very fashionable in the fancy restaurants--and contain more nutrients per ounce than their mature versions. I love to nibble them raw as I take early spring walks to assess winter damage and seasonal changes--but I also pick enough to add to salads and other foods. Try these:
- SPRING SALAD ~ Choose the new, tiny leaves of garlic mustard, chives, overwintered carrots, dandelion and yellow dock (while the older leaves of many of these can be fairly bitter, these newly emerged leaves are tender and mild). Chop them to your tastes and toss them with a balasamic vinaigrette. *Note--if you can't collect enough for a whole salad, collect some to add to your regular salad. *Note 2- do not eat FRESH Nettle leaves!! Steam them first for 15 mins.
- STEAMED GREENS ~ So many old books state that greens should be cooked in one/ several changes of water before eating. Newer research shows this to be totally uneccesary and depletes much of the nutritional benefits. After a quick rinse, steam your greens and serve right away with butter and lemon juice or vinegar--with a dash of nutmeg. A perfect side dish.
- GREENS ALA CARTE ~ Chop them however you want and add to: Pizza, on sandwhiches (including grilled cheese sammies), to soups, and even to smoothies where the fruit flavor will dominate, in omelets, in lasagne. In fact- any recipe calling for spinach can be adapted to a spring green. My personal favorite is nettles--which makes a fantastic quiche and spanikopita--just be sure to steam for 15 mins. BEFORE adding it to the dish for further cooking.