Spring is the time of awakening and renewal. Cherry blossoms are blooming, daffodils are sporting their cheerful yellow heads and the first crop of spring greens are being harvested. Spring greens have a special character. They are tender, crisp and lively and oh, so welcome, after the deeper, denser flavors of winter vegetables.
Below are three of the season’s best offerings.
Also known as Roquette, this peppery green is just what the doctor ordered! Rich in vitamins C, A, K and folate this phytonutrient-rich brassica clocks in at just 25 calories per cup! Though slightly bitter in taste, this green makes a wonderful salad green when balanced with a light, slightly sweeter salad dressing like the Everyday Salad Dressing posted last month. Arugula also makes a great green for an early spring pesto!
Though lesser known, this green packs a nutritional and flavorful punch. From the same family that brings us rhubarb and buckwheat, Sorrel, also known as Rau, often is found growing in the wild. Sorrel, which is translated from French as “sour," has a strong lemony “tang” to it. This green is delicious combined with a mix of spring greens in a salad, but is best known for being cooked into a soup. Recipes vary from French-style pureed soups to Polish-style ones that pair the tangy green with potatoes and chicken.
These bitter greens are a highly underestimated vegetable. Often thought of as a weed, dandelion greens get a gold star in the nutrition category. Like their cousin, Arugula, these bitter greens are rich in vitamins C, A, K and folate. What makes these greens stand out is that they are low in oxalic acid, which makes it easier to absorb the calcium available in the leaves. These wonder-greens have been used to aid in liver detoxification and are a natural diuretic if you’re looking to get rid of some of that winter bloat. They are best used with a mix of greens in a salad or sautéed with garlic and salt for a digestion-revving side dish. Personally, I love mine sautéed with a poached egg on top for a nutritious way to start the day.
These wonderful spring greens are available at farm stands and local farmer’s markets. Check them out and don’t be afraid to try one you have never seen before. You might be discovering your new favorite green!
Spring greens grow close to the ground so be sure to rinse them well before eating. Nothing will spoil a spring salad more than a mouthful of sand.