This is the time of year, there’s an abundance of spring greens. Sweet, flavourful and packed full of nutrients, they are farm-fresh and delicious.
In the spring, over-wintered kale, cabbage and other greens start to send out flowering shoots. When picked young, these shoots are soft and succulent. You can eat the whole stock, not just the flowering tops. Other fresh greens found this time of year include: leeks, kale, chard, collards and mustard greens.
You can find local spring greens at farmers’ market stands or smaller grocery stores that have a focus on local produce. Also, anyone in the Victoria area can sign up for the Good Food Box (thegoodfoodbox.ca), which has a strong partnership with local farmers. They often feature fresh greens in the spring.
Here are three quick, easy and delicious recipes that are perfect for celebrating fresh spring greens. My favourite spring greens are cabbage shoots and kale shoots, however, feel free to use leeks or leafy greens in these recipes.
Simple Savoury Crepes
(Total Prep Time: 30 minutes)
Crepes are a lot easier than you might think. They are basically a thin pancake and just as quick and simple to make. The trick is to make small crepes, about the size of a typical pancake, rather than the giant crepes you get in the restaurants. Small crepes are easy to flip, fill and serve.
1⁄4 cup butter
1 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
11⁄4 cup milk
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 cups of fresh greens (kale, spinach, chard, leeks)
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Slices of cheese
1. Start by mixing the crepe batter, as the flour needs to soak for at least 15 minutes before cooking. For a particularly quick dinner, mix the crepe batter up to two days in advance and store it in the fridge.
2. Melt the butter. Mix together all the ingredients for the crepe batter. I recommend adding the milk last as cold milk causes the butter to harden before it’s mixed in to the batter. The crepe batter will be very liquidy.
3. Prepare the filling while the crepe batter soaks.
4. Wash and chop up the fresh greens. You want them to be in bite-sized pieces.
5. Finely dice the garlic.
6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium. Add the garlic and greens and saute for a few minutes until the greens have started to wilt. Lightly season with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat while you prepare the crepes.
7. Stir the crepe batter before cooking. Pour a 1⁄4 cup of batter onto a hot griddle. Flip it over when the edges have started to dry out and the centre of the crepe is bubbling. Cook it for another minute, then move it to a plate. It should take about 3 minutes to cook a crepe.
8. Fill the crepes with a spoonful of cooked greens and top with a slice of cheese.
9. Either serve immediately or place a few filled crepes on a cookie sheet, then warm them up in the oven when you’re ready to serve dinner.
Pasta with Fresh Greens
(Prep Time: 20 minutes)
Pasta is my go-to for a quick weeknight meal. I particularly love making pasta with fresh greens because it so simple, yet tastes deliciously fancy. Pine nuts are creamy and delicious, however, they are also hard to find and expensive. Walnuts are an earthy substitute, and my children actually prefer sunflower seeds. The goal is to add a nutty crunch along with a bit of protein.
1 box of pasta (454g)
1⁄4 cup of pine nuts (or walnuts, sunflower seeds)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 cloves of garlic
3 cups of fresh greens (kale, spinach, cabbage shoots)
1 tsp salt, to taste
1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. The greens can be prepared while the water boils and the pasta cooks.
2. If the pine nuts (walnuts or sunflower seeds) aren’t toasted, start by quickly toasting them in a large frying pan. As soon as they start to brown, transfer them to a bowl.
3. Heat the olive oil and butter in the hot frying pan. Reduce to low heat while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Finely dice the garlic.
5. Wash and chop the fresh greens into bite-sized pieces.
6. Add the garlic and the greens to the frying pan. Saute until the garlic is cooked and the greens are wilted.
7. Season with the salt and pepper. It taste extra salty as it is providing all of the seasoning for the pasta.
8. When the pasta is cooked, toss it with the wilted greens.
9. Serve the pasta with a sprinkle of toasted nuts and a bit of freshly grated cheese.
(Total Time: 20 minutes)
Omelettes are surprisingly easy to make. In fact, my eleven-year-old decided to make them for dinner one night, and although they weren’t perfectly beautiful they were delicious!
For One Omelette
2 tbsp of milk
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 batch of cooked greens
1 cup of grated cheese
1. Prepare the greens the same way as in the crepe recipe. The greens should be fully cooked before you start on the omelettes because the eggs cook fairly quickly.
2. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl with 2 tbsp of milk and 1⁄4 tsp of salt.
3. Heat an 8-inch frying pan on medium. When it is hot, add a small amount of butter to coat the bottom of the pan.
4. Pour in the beaten eggs and whisk slightly until it starts to thicken like scrambled eggs. Then stop beating to let the bottom set. At this point add a spoonful of cooked greens and some grated cheese in the middle of the omelette.
5. While the omelette finishes cooking, beat the eggs, milk and salt for the next omelette.
6. When the top of the omelette is fully cooked and the bottom is starting to brown, fold the omelette, either in half or thirds, and serve.
7. Melt a bit of butter in the pan and start cooking the next omelette.
8. Continue cooking until you have an omelette for each person.