Does the word “salad” make you cringe? Do you think bland iceberg lettuce with a few carrots and tomatoes thrown on top, smothered in a layer of heavy dressing? It’s time to think beyond the basics. Let’s explore the abundant variety of mixed greens!
About mixed greens
Mixed greens is a blanket term that refers to a variety of greens, such as arugula, spinach, watercress, endive, baby romaine, mizuna, frisée, and radicchio.
The blends may vary by brand, but you can find them conveniently washed and packaged as “ready to eat” at the grocery store. Let’s look at two greens, each with their own unique flavor profile: mizuna and escarole.
Mizuna? Say What?
Commonly found in Japanese cuisine, mizuna belongs to the Brassica family and boasts a rich, peppery flavor similar to that of arugula. It grows year-round as it tolerates extreme conditions and temperatures.
We typically find mizuna in salads. Use it more creatively in stir fries, as a pizza topping, tossed into pasta, or added to a sandwich or burger. Substitute it in recipes for mustard greens or cabbage!
In the Japanese culture, they pickle mizuna by steeping the stalk pieces in salt, sugar and rice vinegar for two days. Then then serve it as a small bite or appetizer.
Aside from being high in antioxidants, mizuna supports blood clotting and bone health as it is high in vitamin K and improves immune health.
Escarole is on a Roll!
Part of the chicory family, escarole is a large, crisp, mildly-flavored bitter leafy green with broad, curly leaves. It is related to other bitter greens like endive, frisée and radicchio. In Vermont, escarole may be planted in spring for an early summer crop, or in later summer for a fall crop.
Escarole is popular in Italian cuisine and found commonly in pasta and soup recipes. The inner, lighter colored leaves are less bitter and more suited for salads paired with a vinaigrette, while the outer, darker greens are better for braising, steaming, or sautéing.
Unlike more delicate greens, escarole can be grilled as a simple side dish. Start by cutting the head in half, simply brushing with oil and seasoning with salt and pepper and grill until it is lightly browned and wilted and serve with grated cheese and vinaigrette.
Not only does it taste great, escarole is a great source of fiber and Vitamins K and A as well as folate, required for the production of genetic material. It is rich in iron and calcium, which are necessary for bone formation and maintenance throughout life and preventing osteoporosis.
This Month’s Recipe: Spring Greens With Beets and Carrots
This month’s recipe is a simple greens salad with a lemon vinaigrette. The slight sweetness of the beets and carrots, along with the tart cherries and crunch from the pepitas provide a nice contrast to the robust, peppery flavor of the greens. A garnish of goat cheese before serving provides a decadent creaminess. Be careful not to drown the salad in dressing as a light coat will provide enough flavor while letting the greens and fresh vegetables shine through.
Spring Greens with Beets and Carrots
- 1/2cupextra virgin olive oil
- 1lemon, juiced
- 1Tbspminced shallot
- 1 1/2tspmaple syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1lbspring greens
- 1yellow beet, raw, peeled, and shredded
- 1large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1/2cupdried cherries
- 1/4cuppepitas, toasted
- 4ozgoat cheese
- For the Lemon Vinaigrette: Whisk extra virgin olive oil, juiced lemon, minced shallot, maple syrup, and salt and pepper, in a bowl to blend. Season to taste and set aside for salad.
- For the salad: In a large salad bowl, place greens, beets, carrots, and dried cherries.
- Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens and toss.
- Divide salad up into 4 plates and garnish with toasted pepitas and goat cheese.