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Thursday, 22 June 2017 11:11

Go wild or plant your own greens

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If you’ve ever been stung by stinging nettles, you might want to take revenge by eating them — they can be substituted for basil in a pesto recipe. In food processor, pulse the following:?Five to six packed cups raw stinging nettle, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and four garlic cloves. Slowly add 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil to get to the preferred pesto consistency. If you’ve ever been stung by stinging nettles, you might want to take revenge by eating them — they can be substituted for basil in a pesto recipe. In food processor, pulse the following:?Five to six packed cups raw stinging nettle, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and four garlic cloves. Slowly add 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil to get to the preferred pesto consistency. File photo

It’s easy to pick up a bag of prewashed and cleaned greens, but when you find out how easy they are to grow, you just might become a gardener without even trying. Take a look at the price you’re paying for that fancy bag and you’ll receive an extra dose of incentive for growing your own.

Start by adding a packet of mixed greens to your window boxes — lettuce comes up fast and you’ll have time to harvest it a couple of times before your ornamental plantings thicken up and push them out of the way. Potting up a patio container of greens is another easy way to have a salad at your fingertips.

No store can carry every variety you can plant easily. And lettuces make a pretty border that will be gone (and eaten) by the time those impatience and petunias climb over the edges of the garden.

If you enjoy indulging your wild side, try picking greens for free. Consider nettles (stinging nettles lose their sting when cooked like spinach), chickweed, dandelions, lamb’s quarters (also called wild spinach), shepherd’s purse and watercress, to name just a few. I can find all of these in my backyard, so they certainly are plentiful.

For seed-package mixes, try a mild mesclun mix for a complete salad from a single package. You’ll find a variety of color, textures and a mild taste. Spinach is very mild-tasting when picked before the heat hits or before it goes to seed. Other favorite greens include arugula, leaf lettuce, bibb, butter crunch, butterhead and oakleaf (available in red, curly and standard).

For hearty greens that hold up to steaming or stir-frying, try Swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, collard greens and kale.

 

Spinach salad

Serves 2 or more

3 cups fresh spinach leaves

1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

2 Tbsps. sunflower seeds

2 Tbsps. blanched, slivered almonds

2 Tbsps. blue cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp. unreconstituted frozen           cranberry juice

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsps. oil and vinegar dressing; any brand or mix your own

Toss together the spinach, strawberries, sunflower seeds, almonds and blue cheese in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss and serve.

 

Fresh fling salad

Serves 4

1 quart mixed spring greens, washed and dried

1 lb. asparagus, lightly steamed

4 oz. enoki mushrooms

4 green onions, sliced

1/4 cup minced fresh dill

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup frozen, unreconstituted orange juice

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Clean asparagus, removing tough ends. Cut into 1-inch pieces and place in bowl with a bit of water and microwave for just 1 minute or until slightly tender.

In large bowl, toss together greens, asparagus, mushrooms, onions and dill.

In small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over salad; toss well to coat and serve immediately.

 

Stir-fry greens

Serves 2-4

2 quarts greens, washed, cut roughly into 2-inch pieces

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

4 Tbsps. olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt, optional

2 Roma or plum tomatoes

Wash greens and roughly cut into pieces. Drain, but do not dry, because the water clinging to the greens will help them to cook.

Add olive oil and garlic to large pot or wok. Heat pan until medium-hot and garlic sizzles. Add greens to wok or skillet and saute for about 2 minutes or until wilted. Lower heat, add remaining ingredients, toss and serve.

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