It’s finally time to really taste spring with this month’s harvest!
Fresh mixed greens – including arugula, baby spinach, bok choy, baby bibb lettuce, and pea and sunflower shoots – are the perfect early spring crop in Vermont, and they are truly delicious. Whether you are planting some in your garden, getting them in your CSA, or buying them at the farmer’s market or grocery store, mixed greens are a great way to add some flavor and breathe some life back into your cooking.
Growing Mixed Greens
Spring in Vermont is the best time to grow greens because they do well in cooler temperatures, but with the sun warming them up by day. When the heat of the summer gets intense, greens can become more bitter and woody, so it’s best to grow them in a spot with some afternoon shade.
Buying Mixed Greens
If you are buying them, pick greens that are firm but tender and on the smaller side. When they grow too large it means that the greens are older and they will be less flavorful (although some will become more bitter) with a less enjoyable, heaftier texture.
Storing Mixed Greens
To keep them, put greens in a large plastic or glass storage container and lay a moistened papertowel over the greens before snapping on the lid. This ensures that the greens will keep for a little longer and will avoid shriveling as they dry out. This being said, it is best to eat them within a few days of purchasing or harvesting.
Besides being good for you – they are a great source of vitamins A, C, folate and antioxidants – greens can make any dish taste a little more zesty and appealing.
Serving Mixed Greens
Try serving your meals on a bed of spinach or arugula to add flavor, nutrients and texture. If you are working on weight management, filling your plate with leafy greens is a good way to make sure you are full and satisfied when cutting back portions of meats and starches. Adding greens to a pasta, bean or quinoa salad can add fresh flavors and also more volume with less calories. Pea or sunflower shoots are a great addition to any salad or look pretty fancy as a garnish for meat, chicken or seafood.
In this month’s recipe, mixed greens provide the foundation for a delicious salad with nutty and sweet characteristics. Greens, pears, and walnuts are dressed up with a tangy dijon vinagrette that delivers complex and surprising flavors from honey, sallots and a hint of fresh basil. It is a great salad at any time but the lush, garden-fresh greens you can get this time of year really add a peppery kick.
For more on mixed greens including recipes, fun facts and even book recommendations, check out the Vermont Harvest of the Month’s website.
Bridget Shea, RD, is a clinical dietician at The University of Vermont Medical Center.
Mixed Greens with Pears and Dijon Vinaigrette
- 12cupsmixed greens
- 1/2Red Anjou pear
- 1 1/2tsplemon juice
- 1/4cupmaple sugar
- 1/3cupolive oil
- 2 1/2Tbspbalsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2Tbsphoney
- 1/2small shallot, minced
- 1 1/2tspchopped fresh basil
- 1tspDijon mustard
- 1/2clove garlic, minced
- salt & pepper to taste
- Line baking sheet with foil and grease foil lightly
- Combine walnuts, sugar, and light margarine in skillet and cook over medium high heat without stirring until the sugar begins to melt
- Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring, until sugar turns golden brown
- Remove from heat and carefully pour mixture onto prepared baking sheets. Allow to cool, then break into pieces and set aside
- Slice pear and toss with lemon juice, set aside
- Combine vinegar, honey, shallot, basil, mustard, and garlic. Use chopping blade of food processor and process for 5 one-second pulses. With machine running, slowly add olive oil in steady stream. Refrigerate until ready to serve
- Toss greens, walnuts, pear slices, and dressing in large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.