Green Goodness Part 3: Salad Greens
As I mentioned in our first Green Goodness blog post about Steamed Kale, my meal never feels complete without a generous serving of greens. Whether I’m making a simple salad for dinner, or I’m packing my lunch for work, I love to get creative with my salad and use a variety of fresh greens. It’s easy to get in a rut with arugula and romaine, so today I’m going to guide you through a selection of gourmet, nutritious and fun salad greens to make your salads more exciting. And if you need some salad dressing inspiration, our three favorite dressings will compliment any of these greens. Check out the recipes for Hollyhock Dressing, Miso Dressing, and Lemon Garlic Dressing.
Before we get into the greens, it’s important to first consider what greens are in season. If you can buy your salad greens at the farmer’s market, not only are you supporting local agriculture, your salad greens will also be fresher, and more nutritious. You can also often find a wide variety of greens you might not be able to find at the grocery store. Many of the salad green sold in supermarkets, even if they are organic, are grown hydroponically. This is a great option for winter and urban farming, but when you get local greens grown in healthy soil, your greens will have more nutrients and more earth energy to keep you grounded and nourished. So, before you grab your greens, take a moment to consider if there are any local and seasonal options.
Here are some delicious greens to expand your salad options:
Perhaps you’ve only known dandelion greens as enemies of your lawn, but they are in fact amazing salad greens. I love their delightfully bitter taste that goes well with milder greens like arugula and romaine. These leaves are an excellent digestive and liver-cleansing tonic, especially helpful in springtime, but the healthful greens can be enjoyed year round. Local dandelion greens are usually available in the spring and fall. If you find the leaves too bitter, you can blanch them to remove some of the bitterness.
Mâche, a French variety of baby lettuce also known as lamb’s lettuce, is sweet, mild, and nutty. Its small leaves make an elegant and delicious salad, and go well with a mild vinaigrette that lets the taste of mâche shine through. With almost as much iron as spinach, and a wonderfully delicate taste, this is a great salad green for adults and kids alike. Ask your local farmer if they grow mâche, otherwise it can be found at Whole Foods.
A study done at William Paterson University ranked watercress as the vegetable with the highest percentage of the 17 most important nutrients. While some vegetables might provide higher levels of specific nutrients, watercress is so special because it contains large amounts of all the most essential vitamins and minerals. Watercress is a great green to add to your salads for its excellent nutrition, peppery taste and cooling effect. It’s in season from spring to early fall.
A fun and easy way to enjoy kale’s nutrient-packed leaves is in the form of baby kale. The small leaves are mild and deliciously tender, and have lower levels of oxalic acid, so you don’t have to steam them. I like to mix in baby kale leaves with a blend of other salad greens. They’re also great to throw in a green smoothie!
I love sprouts! They are so full of life-force and wonderfully delicious. Whether I sprout my own seeds, or buy sprouts from the supermarket, they make a great addition to any salad. Sometimes I even just throw a wad of them in my lunch box and my greens are taken care of. The most common sprouts available are mild alfalfa and broccoli sprouts, sweet pea shoots, spicy radish sprouts, and tender bean sprouts. At home, I sprout a mix of seeds to create a well balanced sweet and spicy blend. Not only do they add pizzazz to a salad, they are also wonderful in sandwiches, green juices and as a simple snack.
By Chloe Bolton
Photos Briana Cagninelli & Sophie Slater