It’s May and the farms are starting to open! My favorite farmer is back and I bought some lettuce, radishes and eggs.
With these ingredients, I made a salad the same day, because fresh is better!
The fresh green vegetables currently available are spring lettuce varieties, pea shoots, arugula and baby spinach. Dandelion greens are plentiful and free for the pick, too.
Fresh salad greens with tender young spring leaves are a special seasonal treat. They are easy to assemble, light, healthy and delicious.
Fresh green vegetables aren’t just delicious, they’re healthy, low in calories, and packed with nutrients. Lettuce contains only 9 calories per cup; a cup of arugula contains only 5; a cup of raw spinach contains 7; a cup of beet greens contains 8. A cup of raw dandelion greens contains a little more – 25 calories. Sweet pea shoots have the most, reaching 40.
These low-calorie greens are loaded with essential nutrients. They are rich in antioxidants that protect cells from damage and help prevent disease. They are good sources of minerals like potassium, calcium and iron. They provide important vitamins – C, A and folic acid. Of course, each green has its own specific and unique range of important nutrients. Generally, the spine and ribs contain the most fiber, and the vitamins and minerals are concentrated in the leaves. The darker the leaves, the higher the concentration of beta-carotene (vitamin A).
Lettuce and spinach were common in ancient Babylon, Persia and Egypt. Arugula, beet greens and chard are native to the sandy shores of the Mediterranean, from northern Africa to southern Europe. The Greeks and Romans knew Swiss chard. Arugula is still popular in Italian and Turkish cuisines. Pea shoots are traditionally grown in the Orient from snow peas, but can be grown from any pea plant and are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Dandelions grow everywhere – they were brought to North America by European settlers as a food crop.
Greens are tender and perishable. They like cool weather, so are best when harvested in May or early June. And they won’t last long in your fridge, so use them quickly.
Mix them. Fresh vegetables offer a wide range of tastes and textures to your salads. For optimum nutritional value as well as the best flavor, green vegetables should be eaten as fresh as possible.
Salad of green vegetables and Greek cereals
You can use farro, coarse (Israeli) couscous, orzo pasta, or even rice in this salad. Dandelions and spicy arugula are fine, but you can use any green.
2 cups cooked farro, couscous, etc.
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can drained and rinsed)
10 ounces of fresh greens – spinach, arugula, or a mix of spring greens
1 bunch green onions, chives or 1 sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup black olives, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced.
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
Cook cereal or pasta according to package directions. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice.
Stir in chickpeas, greens. Green onions, garlic, olives, red pepper and feta. Taste to adjust seasonings. Stir in Greek yogurt, if desired. Top with feta and additional olives.
Spring salad of baby leaves and radishes
3-4 cups spring sprouts – I used the lettuce I bought, but you can also add spinach, arugula, dandelion greens
1 bunch of radishes
2 small or 1 large cucumber
1/2 to 1 cup chopped chives, green onion or sweet onion
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt, kefir, sour cream or combination
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Hard boiled eggs. Peel and set aside.
Wash the green vegetables, drain them and place them in a salad bowl.
Remove the root ends from the radishes, rinse, slice and add to the greens in the bowl. Thinly slice the cucumber (peeling optional and also depends on the type of cucumber). Stir into greens. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Slice green onions or chives and add.
Chop the reserved hard-boiled eggs and add them. Stir in yogurt and feta. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Author of award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh, Fabulous Meals From Your Garden, CSA, or Farmer’s Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at email@example.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.