Monday, March 17, 2008

Overwintered Salad

Something inspirational is happening in the garden. The many greens I like to put in my salads have shaken off their winter stupor and our bounding back into a new season. As they revive, we begin picking again, putting a healthy assortment of greens on the dinner table.

Mustard greens are great for cooking. But if the leaves are picked while still young and tender, they make a great addition to a salad. I particularly like this red mustard for the rich color it adds to the salad bowl.

You may be getting the idea that I like sharp flavors in my salad. In fact, I love sharp peppery greens even as just an accent in an otherwise mild salad. Mizuna is one of my favorites. Its frilly foliage looks great in the garden as well.

I never seem to have enough arugula seed on hand. I don't ever want to be without arugula. It has a robust, spicy flavor and a great chew. Sometimes I just dress it with a little lemon and extra-virgin olive oil and eat it all on its own.

We even have some lettuces making a comeback. This "Red Summer Crisp," one of about 15 different lettuce varieties I planted last year, seems to be particularly determined to carry on. Before long, though, it's bound to go to seed.

Sorrel is a perennial. It loves these cool, early spring days. Its citrusy flavor is great in a sauce for fish, blended into a pesto or just torn up for a salad. Kids love to pick it right out of the garden.

Cilantro doesn't last long in the heat here in the District of Columbia. This plant came through the winter in grand shape. The flavor is the best I've ever tasted. I'm beginning to think overwintering cilantro should be a permanent part of our garden plan.

Parsley is a biennial, meaning it goes to seed in the second year. Already it is taking on a woolly appearance. It won't matter how furiously you harvest it--this parsley is determined to replicate. It's almost better just to dig it up and plant some new seed.


Meg Wolff said...

Hi Ed,
Nice post. Funny because I just finished my lunch ... a salad from Whole Foods in Winterpark, FL. Glaser Organic Farms of Miami ... it had many of the ingredients you mentioned with a dressing of olive oil & fresh lemon. It was delicious. Enjoy receiving your posts by email.

maggie said...

I must go out and scour the garden... I did notice lots of purslane coming up, I should probably make use of it before I need to weed it. It's time to start planting!

Ed Bruske said...

Meg, these are great salads with a very simple dressing. I guess I never thought of all these heartier greens growing in Florida. Enjoy!

Maggie, we are being overrun by chickweed at the moment. I have not seen the purslane yet. I like purslane raw, but not so much cooked. I suppose that places me outside the mainstream, but purslane just seems to break down into an off-putting goo when it's been cooked. I don't care for it.