The High Tunnel Waketh

High Tunnel on March 17, 2012

The lengthening days have finally awoken the spinach, arugula, lettuces and mustard greens growing in the hoophouse.  Their colors have deepened, their leaf growth rapidly gaining size and yummy crisp flavor.  We have been enjoying these delicacies with our dinners, and our customers have enjoyed finding an unexpected treat for sale at market.

Incorporating these early greens is a great way to spruce up the end of Winter seasonal diet, when starches, pickles and dehydrated herbs make up the bulk of what’s left in the pantry and root cellar. Crisp, fresh greens are a welcome change, and are packed full of nutrients your body needs to begin flushing out the Winter’s accumulation of toxins from your system.  Eating them raw is especially good.

These greens pair well with things you might have left from your Winter store.  Add apples, raisins, nuts, and other dried fruits to a fresh lettuce salad.

Ruby Streaks and Giant Red Mustard

 Mustard greens have a spicy radish-like flavor that goes really well with smoked meat.  Bacon ends, ham hocks, even fatty trimmings from a ham cam be lightly braised (cooked in about 2 inches of water at med-low heat for about 10 mins) with a bunch of roughly-chopped mustard greens.  Serve with butter, salt and pepper, and vinegar if you like as a side to a nice ham, pork roast or deep-fried turkey.

Arugula has a pleasant nutty-peppery flavor.  It is terrific as a salad alone or as an accent to a rich main dish.  Arugula is classically-prepared by washing the greens and tossing to coat with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  This is an elegant, nutritious salad by itself, or makes a lovely bed for steamed vegetables, poached fish, curry, anything.  Or roughly chop the arugula and spread atop potatoes  the serve with steak or roast beast.  Arugula also makes a fine pesto, and is great on top of pizza.

Arugula

The spinach is enjoyed raw or lightly steamed and makes an excellent side dish.

Spinach

 

Traditional Spinach Salad is made from:

fresh raw spinach

slivered red onion

hard boiled eggs

mushrooms

generous pieces of bacon

To make a hot bacon dressing:  Save the melted fat from cooking the bacon.  While still warm, stir in 2 Tbs brown sugar, 2 Tbs mustard. and 2 Tbs vinegar of choice.

Serve Spinach Salad with Hot bacon Dressing.  Top with salt and pepper.

 

 

Greens are an excellent source of iron and an even better source of calcium than milk!  I remember enjoying them as a child, lightly wilted with a splash of vinegar, salt, pepper, and a generous pat of butter.  Or lighten up by tossing with garlic and olive oil instead.  Greens can be added to scrambled eggs, quiche, soups, stews, stir-frys, and pasta dishes.

The forecast is wonderful to keep the greens growing, and we look forward to delighting or customers at out next market with their choice to add to their own menus.

This St. Patrick’s Day, I got my green on!

 

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