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.
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.
Greens with Parmesan Vinaigrette
- 1/3cupfreshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3Tbspextra-virgin olive oil
- 2Tbspwhite-wine vinegar
- 1/2tspfinely chopped garlic
- 1/2tspDijon mustard
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 8cupsmixed salad greens
- Whisk Parmesan, oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with salad greens.