A Season of Fresh Greens

One of my favourite things about living on the coast is that spring usually comes with an abundance of fresh greens.

As a gardener, kale, chard and arugula are easy and reliable crops. They last through the winter and can handle a few heavy snowfalls. Then sprout up and burst with flowers in the spring. We always leave a few plants to self-seed for a never-ending crop.

Spring greens are equally versatile in the kitchen. They’re delicious in soup, pasta or salad.

- Advertisement -

Here are three recipes that feature spring greens. They can be made with whatever greens are available in your garden or from your local grocery store. That includes everything from spinach to kale.

Spring Greens with Baked Eggs

This vegetable-packed dish is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner! Serve it with a side of toast or oven roasted potatoes.

I’ve written the recipe for a family of four. However, it’s an easy way to make a LOT of eggs all at once. So feel free to double or triple the recipe. To bake a larger amount of eggs, move the wilted greens to a glass casserole dish, then bake the eggs in that dish instead.

1 large bunch of spring greens

1 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 Roma tomatoes

1⁄4 tsp of cumin

2 Tbsp olive oil

1⁄4 tsp salt, to taste

1⁄4 tsp smoked paprika

4 eggs

1⁄4 cup of Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

2. Wash and finely chop the spring greens. Dice the onions and garlic and chop the tomatoes.

3. Heat a large, ovenproof frying pan on medium heat. Add the cumin and toast until fragrant (about 1 minute).

4. Add the olive oil and yellow onion. Cook for 2 minutes, until the onions are starting to soften.

5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle on the salt and smoked paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes.

6. Add the greens to the frying pan and cover with a lid until everything is bubbling and the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. There will be quite of bit of liquid in the pan, perfect for poaching eggs. Taste the stew and add more salt as necessary.

7. Push the vegetables aside to create four wells in the frying pan. Crack an egg into each of the wells. Sprinkle each egg with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

8. Place the frying pan in the oven and bake uncovered. The eggs are done when the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes. The exact cooking time will depend on your oven, so keep an eye on them.

Braised French Lentils with Greens

This simple dish is surprisingly rich and flavourful. Served with a baguette at a table set with candles, it feels fancy in a rustic sort of way.

2 medium carrots

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 Tbsp olive oil

1⁄2 cup of broth or red wine

3⁄4 cup of brown or French lentils

2 cups of water

A large bunch of greens

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt and pepper, to taste.

1. Finely chop the carrots and onion. Dice the garlic.

2. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add the vegetables and saute until the onions are just starting to soften, about 2 minutes.

3. Pour in the broth or wine. Bring to a boil, then add the lentils and 2 cups of water.

4. Reduce the heat and simmer until lentils are soft, but not mushy (about 20 minutes).

5. Meanwhile, wash and chop the greens.

6. When the lentils are soft, stir in the greens, tomato paste and Dijon mustard. Continue to simmer until the greens are just wilted (about 2 minutes). Add the salt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve immediately.

Garlic Roasted Flowering Shoots

In the spring, kale, cabbage and other brassicas send out flowering shoots. On cabbages they form after the main head of cabbage has been removed. With kale, they come as the main stalk shoots up to make little yellow flowers.

These flowering shoots are a tender and delicious, yet under-appreciated vegetable. They can be prepared in the same method as asparagus; fried, steamed or sautéed. I like having them oven roasted with garlic, because it is so easy and my kids love it.

Flowering shoots are a crop that more local farmers are producing, so you should be able to find them at any market featuring small, local producers. Or, if you are a gardener, simply leave your kale and cabbage in the ground until they naturally send out flowering shoots. You should be able to get several harvests from a single plant, so let them send out flowers several times. I don’t recommend trying this with chard, because it is quite bitter when it flowers.

1 bunch of flowering shoots (from cabbage or kale)

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

1⁄4 tsp salt, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

2. Wash the flowering shoots and trim off the cut end. The is only necessary for store-bought shoots, which may have dried out a bit.

3. Spread the shoots out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss to coat.

4. Finely dice the garlic and spread it over the shoots. Then sprinkle on the salt.

5. Bake until the shoots soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, and some of the leaves are browning. It should take between 15 to 20 minutes depending on how thick the shoots are. Cabbage shoots tend to be thicker than kale.

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrishhttp://emillieparrish.com/
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.