Begone, dull winter

May 03, 1998|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

Spring greens are a traditional tonic for tired menus and winter-weary palates. Tender and mild-flavored, baby spinach and young leaves of spring-grown dandelion, mustard, arugula, turnip and beet offer fresh, new flavors and a good supply of nutrients.

Serve spring greens with other foods in salads, soups and pasta dishes. Try adding a handful or two of finely shredded raw greens to hot, freshly cooked, well-drained linguine; drizzle with olive oil, add freshly ground pepper, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Then toss lightly and serve with fish or as the main course for a light supper.

Tips:

* The peak season for spring greens is March through June.

* Choose young greens with small, tender leaves. Avoid wilted, yellow or slimy leaves.

* Greens are highest in vitamins and minerals immediately after harvesting and should be served as soon as possible after purchase. Unwashed greens can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three days.

* Wash greens just before use. Remove tough stems. Wash leaves thoroughly to remove sand or dirt. Drain well.

Spinach-Pine Nut Salad

Serves 4 to 6

2 bunches fresh spinach (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, washed and drained

1 red onion, sliced thinly

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1 cup crumbled part-skim feta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper, to taste

In a large salad bowl, mix spinach leaves, onion, carrot, nuts, olives and feta cheese.

In another bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss. Serve at once.

Soupe Jardiniere

Serves 4

6 cups chicken stock

4 cups spring greens (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total), stemmed, washed and drained

2 tablespoons each minced parsley and chives

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup minced green onion

In a stockpot over moderately high heat, bring stock to a simmer. Slice greens into thin ribbons or chop very fine. Add to stock and cook just until wilted (about 2 minutes). Stir in herbs and simmer 2 minutes more. Season to taste and serve in warmed bowls. Garnish with minced green onion.

Saute of Spring Greens

Serves 3 or 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil

2 bunches fresh spinach (about 1 1/2 pounds total), stemmed, washed and drained

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter or heat oil.

Saute spinach and garlic just until leaves are wilted (about 5 to 8 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve at once.

Excerpted from "Cooking A to Z: The Complete Culinary Reference Source" (Cole Publishing Group)

Pub Date: 5/03/98

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