Unexpected Ways to Prep and Cook Spring Greens
Too delicious to smother with a cheese sauce.
Pantone was on to something when Greenery was named the 2017 Color of The Year. A fresh green color evokes the first days of spring, when nature is bursting forth with new growth. Even the first spring vegetables are lovely shades of green, from dark green kale and spinach to a lighter shade of green in plump, sweet peas and crunchy broccoli. For new ideas on serving your favorite spring vegetables, check out this lineup of delicious Spring Farmer’s Market Recipes. If you like to garden or buy fresh produce in bulk, now is also the time to decide if you will discover the fun of canning, or “puttin’ up,” this season. Here are some of our favorite spring greens and new ideas on prepping and serving.
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This crunchy bright green vegetable really gets a bad rap. We used to think the only way to prepare this healthy vegetable was to boil it until it was soft, and by this time it smelled bad and was so mushy that it was unsightly. At this point, the only way to eat it was to smother the broccoli mush with a cheese sauce. But now we know better! There are so many easy ways to prepare and incorporate this delicious vegetable into our diets. This top-rated Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad makes a delicious side dish, or simply add shredded deli chicken for a main. Try this colorful Broccoli Slaw, loaded with green and red cabbage, for a healthy side.
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Chef Tip: Roasting broccoli brings out its natural sweetness and gives the florets crispy, frizzled edges. Be sure and use a very hot oven (400°F) until the broccoli is browned and slightly charred in places. Drizzle with lemon juice, or use your favorite dressing as a dip.
Popeye taught the world that spinach was the source of his incredible strength. And even though we know now the truth behind the exalted claims about the iron content of spinach, these pretty green leaves are still an amazing source of Vitamins A, C, and other good things than enable us to fight off villains, just like Popeye did. If you aren’t into eating spinach from a can, however, try it in this 5-ingredient Spinach-Grape Chopped Salad. Need a meatless option? This incredibly flavorful Spinach-Black Bean Lasagna has been a reader favorite ever since we first published the recipe.
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Chef Tip: Mild fresh spinach can be slipped into just about any recipe. Simply wilt it in a pan with a little water or oil until it cooks down. Let the spinach cool, then wring out any excess moisture. Add to hot pasta dishes or soups, or use as colorful pizza toppings.
Naturally sweet snap peas make an incredibly tasty snack when eaten raw. Pickling, however, adds a vinegary punch while preserving their crunchy texture. Toss into salads or serve on a charcuterie platter.
It is two vegetables in one! The crunchy stalks and tender leaves work together to add taste and texture to a dish. The high heat of stir-frying makes the most of stalks and leaves by wilting the greens and cooking the stalks until they are crisp-tender.
One of the vitamin-rich dark leaf vegetables, you can tenderize kale, and other hearty greens, by blanching them in a large stockpot of boiling water. Cook in salted water until tender, then drain the kale and pat dry with paper towels. Look for pre-washed and chopped bags of kale to save time. You can use kale in recipes the same way you would use spinach.
There are so many delicious ways to cook fresh or frozen sweet peas, but their creamy texture and natural sweetness makes an excellent addition to pesto. Swap out some or all of the basil for other fresh herbs like mint, cilantro or parsley – peas complement them all.