A Taste of Spring Greens
By Mark Mulcahy
If you are like me, you have probably been eating lots of cooked or roasted organic veggies these past few months. But when spring rolls around, my thoughts turn to big fresh salads with as many seasonal fresh items as I can fit into a bowl.
This month Melissa’s is loaded up with all kinds of greens items like organic Green leaf
, Red Leaf, Romaine
and Iceberg lettuce
. With this in mind, how about making your own version of a chopped salad? Start with some crunchy Melissa’s organic romaine and iceberg. Yes I said iceberg. Frankly I love iceberg in tacos or as an addition to my romaine based chopped salad. I know iceberg has a bad rap but consider this: It stays fresh longer than other lettuces, often staying fresh for a week or more in the fridge, and there’s no need to peel off the wrapper leaves because they are just as sweet and crunchy as the rest of the head. Ounce per ounce it could be considered the best value in lettuce because it is denser than leaf and romaine varieties and there’s little waste. It’s versatile too, as I mentioned above you can chop it up and toss into salads with other greens and its crisp, cool flavor makes for pleasing contrast with heartier greens like romaine, radicchio, endive, or spinach, you name it.
Like all lettuce, iceberg is around 95% water and low in calories, yet contrary to popular belief it does have some nutritional value. It contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and vitamins A and C. Now that we have the base, next add some organic cherry tomatoes
, sliced carrots, Melissa’s Steamed and Peeled Baby Red Beets
, a little shaved daikon radish for pizazz, a little feta, some avocado
and you have yourself one healthy and filling meal. Looking for the right dressing? Top it off with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Dressing hmm, hmmm good! You can vary this however you like, such as adding sliced or diced dried salami, cubed baked tofu, a little canned tuna, or cottage cheese. If you start to embrace the idea the possibilities are endless.
If you are still into cooking, then stock up on all of the greens and cook them low and slow. Melissa’s has lots of organic Collard Greens
, Mustard Greens, Kale (Green, Lacinato, Red Kale)
all great for you and easy to prepare.
You can make some collard or mustard greens like the old traditional recipe where you take 5 bunches or lbs. of greens, cut the leaves off the stems, tear or cut them into small pieces. Make sure you wash them very well, drain and rinse again as spring greens are often grown in sandy soil; then put them in a very large pot then add a ½ cup of red or white Vinegar, ½ c sugar, 2 hot peppers, 3 chopped onions, 5 large cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons black pepper and cover with water. It might be best to find a project to do around the house where you can keep an eye on these babies because they have to cook on low for 6 hours. An hour or so before they are done make up some corn bread and get ready for some darn good eating. Heck, if you really want to go all out get a recipe for black-eyed peas and you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven. Just before you serve the greens you’ll need to salt them to taste.
Ok ok, I get it! You want to try some greens but don’t have 6 hours. Well this will be just as tasty and a lot quicker. Braise your collards with some onions and garlic. Then toss them with vinaigrette made from another March favorite: Melissa’s organic Minneola tangelos
(you may also know them as a” honey bell"). Large, orange and somewhat bell-shaped, Minneola Tangelos are seedless and have just the right amount of tang to sweet balance, most likely because they are a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and Dancy tangerine. All you have to do is make a 2/3-cup batch of oil and vinegar dressing either your own recipe or even one from a package will do. Then juice some Melissa’s organic Minneola’s and add 1/3 cup of fresh Minneola juice to the dressing. You’ll be glad you did!
But don’t blame me if you end up eating the full pan!