Greens, Greens, Greens!

Beautiful bundles of braising greens, including mustards and kales, from Port Townsend's Collinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.


All it took was a few warm, sunny days, and kaboom! Out came the greens. Mustard greens. Turnip greens. Flowering arugula. Cabbage raab. Kale raab. Bok choy raab! Aren't you just craving all these greens you missed while chowing down at grandma's house on heaping plates of ham, prime rib and leg of lamb accompanied by an endless array of starchy side dishes? I know your GI tract did.

Nash's Napa cabbage raab. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oh, how sweet the surrender to spring. Could our long, dark (wet, snowy and cold) winter of discontent finally be over? I mean, I love a good root roast as much as the next guy -- a big Pyrex baking dish loaded up with Chiogga beets, rutabagas, parsnips, sunchokes, golden turnips, fingerling potatoes, carrots and whatever other roots I can find tossed in olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and placed in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes until tender, warming my kitchen and my soul on a cold, dark, wet winter's night. It is just the kind of cozy food for a night spent in with the family, the cats and the dogs, and maybe a good movie, when going outdoors seems terribly unappealing.

But now it's spring, finally, and it's time to dust off the shorts and buy a new pair of sunglasses, because for the life of us we can't remember where we left last year's pair. And it's time to get outside. So we want food that can be prepared quickly and simply, that won't overheat our kitchens, and that we can enjoy without weighing us down. We want greens.

Chickweed, or satin flower, at Nash's Organic Producer. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Think salads and sautés and simple soups and sandwiches. Most any green is suited to all these applications. And if any of these fresh greens intimidate you, consider the tried and true, and simple, method of cooking them: lightly sautéed in olive oil with garlic, salted and peppered to taste. Quick, simple, delicious, and it works for just about any green, though collards love the addition of bacon or pancetta.

Alm Hill has the first green garlic of the season. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And 'tis the season of green garlic, too. Grab some and toss it in with your greens instead of bulb garlic, and enjoy a sweeter, milder, grassier garlic flavor. It is especially handy come asparagus and morel season, both of which are imminent, and you can grill it just like a green onion.

Nash's flowering arugula. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So make your way this coming Sunday to Ballard Farmers Market for all the greens you missed on Easter Sunday. The mizuna, chard and even a few radishes will be waiting for you.