Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Recipes: Greens and Herbs

Spring greens are readily available in the produce section in most grocery stores, which means we can create healthy salads year round. However, with warm weather arriving, the herbs are growing again, and the farm markets will open soon. This gives cooks many opportunities to add fresh herbs and greens to their salads and dishes. My chives, thyme and oregano have grown enough to harvest small amounts, despite our nights getting down in the 30's. If you don't spray chemicals in your yard, you can also harvest dandelions this time of year while they are young. Today I'm sharing a few recipes and tips from Salads and Herbs by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown, published in 1938.

"Besides the common use as greens for a spring tonic, dandelion leaves can be blanched by inverting flower pots over them...and used as a snappy seasoning to pep up milder lettuce salads. In France the dandelion is so esteemed that a cultivated form resembling endive actually rivals it for crispness and fine flavor and is eaten fresh with gusto and French Dressing. "

Wilted Dandelion Salad
Salt and pepper about a pound of fresh, crisp dandelions. Dice 1/4 pound bacon, fry and pour fat and all over dandelions; stir a tablespoon or two of vinegar in pan, dash it over and stir everything well together.

Dandy Sandwiches
Young dandelion leaves make dandy sandwiches. They should be torn to pieces, rather than cut, in order to bring out their full flavor. Tender young leaves in this fashion are laid between slices of bread and butter and sprinkled with salt. The addition of a little lemon juice and pepper, or paprika, varies the flavor pleasantly.

Mixed Green Salad

6 lettuce leaves
6 romaine leaves
6 escarole leaves
1 cup thinly sliced Chinese cabbage
1 tablespoon minced onion
French dressing

Rub bowl with garlic; arrange the greens in layers and sprinkle with minced onion; add dressing and toss. Drop a four-leaf cover on top for luck.

Lastly, I wanted to share the following tips on chives from the book. I'm not sure I could ever pick just one herb as my favorite, but chives come close. They are easy to grow, ornamental, and a great addition to salads, egg dishes, potatoes and so much more. The flowers can be broken apart and used in salads or dips. They are very peppery, and delicious.

"The tender green tops of this delicate yet snappy onion should always be clipped with shears, very fine, for sprinkling over sandwiches, chops, hamburgers, tomatoes, cucumber, salads, mashed potatoes, on wilted lettuce salad, omelettes, croquettes, sausages, tomato cocktails, French dressing, Thousand Island dressing, or in tartar sauce with fish. The breezy, springlike flavor of chives is the making of almost any spread of soft cheese, such as cream or cottage, by simply mixing it in. Cook string beans with chives and half as much parsley, removed before serving. Try clipped chives on buttered new potatoes in place of parsley and to give color to light soups such as potato and celery. "

On OFL we have an article on growing and using garlic chives:

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