Spring has officially begun and with it has come an appetite for light, fresh fare. For now, I’ll bid farewell to all of the woodsy and earthy vegetables of the past two seasons and welcome in the crisp greens of spring.
I have never been one to pay absurd amounts for pre-packaged mixed salads that always seem to be brown and wilted well before their sell-by date. Bored by the monotony of another head of romaine, I recently ventured through the produce section at my local grocery store and sought inspiration from the rows of fresh greens. I’ll admit, the pictures above each item are just the helping hand that a novice needs. For less than what I would have spent on a single pre-mixed bag, I went home with four enormous bundles of crisp, vitamin-packed greens.
As the weather begins to warm, old favorites such as spinach, arugula and lettuce come into season. This year, try experimenting with kale and collard greens, swiss chard, mustard greens and rapini while they are at their peak. From nutty to bitter, there is a green to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Here are a few ideas for a simple side dish, a healthy lunch or a light dinner using the very best that spring has to offer.
- Bok Choy: Light, sweet and crisp with a generous dose of Vitamins A and C and calcium. Try it with ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds.
- Dandelion Greens: Yes, the very same ones that grow in your backyard! Bitter, yet delicious, these leaves are packed with Vitamins A, C and K, as well as calcium and iron. Try them with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Watercress: These tangy leaves contain iron, calcium, folic acid and are said to help fight against a number of common diseases and ailments. Try them with green apple, pecorino romano cheese, lemon juice, minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
- Escarole: The crunch of this slightly bitter green will be an easy swap for those that rely on romaine; however, you’ll be rewarded handsomely with an abundance of fiber, folate, vitamins and minerals. Try it with red apple, cheddar, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.