Cook This Now: Early Spring Greens

By Michele T. Fri, March 18, 2016

As we emerge into the longer days of early spring, we’re all about spending time outdoors, getting fresh air, and hitting up farmers’ markets for delicious, local produce! Grab some of these great greens on your next trip to market—you might be surprised by the selection available in late winter and early spring!

Spinach
Some diehard farmers’ market fans swear by cold-weather spinach. Cold-weather spinach differs from baby spinach in leaf shape and color. The crinkly, darker leaves of winter spinach are sweeter with a slightly more concentrated flavor. Why does this happen in the winter? As a cold-weather survival tool, the spinach plant will throw more sugar into its leaves to lower their freezing temperature. Spinach will only be available at markets until mid-spring, so now’s the time to try it. Here’s two different ways to prepare and enjoy winter spinach!

Serious Eats’ “Gateway Green Smoothie”—a sweet, tasty, and accessible smoothie recipe with easy-to-find ingredients!

Food & Wine’s Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets—combines two winter market staples (spinach and beets) with sunny citrus and creamy goat cheese. The flavor combination here is outstanding!


Baby Kale
Kale’s popularity has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 10 years or so. Bet your grandma never thought kale would be so trendy! Baby kale’s bright colors and curly leaves are a welcome sight at market during the waning days of winter. Its nutritional profile is rather impressive as well—it’s packed with vitamins A and C, as well as iron and calcium. Want to experiment a little in your kitchen with baby kale? Check out these recipes:

Food & Wine’s Nutty Baby Kale Chips recipe only calls for 4 ingredients. Give these easy chips a try next time you’re craving something crispy. Just don’t forget to completely dry the leaves after washing!

The New York Times suggests sautéing kale with vegetable stock and a splash of red-wine. Can’t go wrong with this classic approach!


Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli rabe is forever married to roast pork in the minds of many Philadelphians, for good reason! This bitter green’s flavor stands up to the big flavors of roast pork and sharp provolone. Broccoli rabe is abundant this time of year at local markets. 

Serious Eats suggests miniaturizing this Philly classic in its Game Day Roast Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches recipe.

This White Beans with Broccoli Rabe and Lemon recipe from Bon Appetít could make a meal of its own when combined with a bowl of brown rice. Make it vegetarian by leaving out the anchovy fillets and subbing in two teaspoons of miso paste!

Cold-weather spinach is delicious and great to cook with.
Cold-weather spinach is delicious and great to cook with.

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