Everyone who hears this will have some type of green or mixed greens that comes to mind. It can be different for everyone, depending on where you live, what ecosystem you live near, or for many, what grocery store is nearby. Young salad greens from the grocery store in plastic containers, are labeled, “Spring Greens”. That is bit sad to think that these little young lettuce, kale and beet greens that are grown year round, and shipped across the country are considered spring greens. These are not what I consider “Spring Greens”. They are really just young tender greens.
Here is my version of “Spring Greens”: They grow only in the Spring. That is between March and June in my neck of the woods. These are when these plants are just starting their rebirth into the unfrozen world. They have a special quality about them this time of year; they have high nutrients and are astringent. Many of these plants are considered bitter greens. Which means that they, in fact, taste bitter. It’s that ‘bitter’ that we are after. These bitter plants, can help to “clean the blood” in a gentle way. They actually can help your liver to shed your body of toxins that have been stored up over time.
My spring greens change as Spring progresses. Burdock is one of the first greens that are available in my area. When I am digging up the root in early spring is when I harvest these young tender burdock leaves.. I add the the chopped leaf to soups. Stinging nettles is another great cooked green. I wait all winter for nettle lasagna in the spring. Remember to harvest with gloves and only used cooked or dried nettles, which gets rid of the ‘sting’.
Then the valerian starts to shoot up. The young greens are sweet and tender. Dandelions early greens are great to add into the mix. Yarrow’s young leaves are tender and add some nice texture and contrast. Chicory leaves are great to add into a salad. Gill is a green that is not used much anymore. It is a stronger flavored green, so go lightly when adding to salad. I have wondered if this would be nice as a pesto? Spearmint is up very early around here and that makes a nice addition to salad or a great early spring tea with lemon and honey.
The heart shaped leaf of the violet should not be forgotten. It is tender and packed with good things we need in the spring. The flowers start early as well and add a touch of sweet and color up a salad nicely.
Garlic shoots are a great addition to soup or salad at this time of year, as well as as the emerging chives.
Eat these spring greens in small quantities as it is never a good idea to eat a lot of bitter greens at once. I enjoy my spring greens in salads mostly. I mix those young leafy lettuce greens with my spring greens and create a sweet salad dressing to counteract that bitter taste. It is such a refreshing salad. I can feel my body soaking up all those great spring nutrients. I sometimes throw a handful of Spring Greens in a soup at the last minute.
We can help ourselves to wake up our bodies in the healthiest way to prepare for the busy summer ahead, by eating real “Spring Greens’,
Spring Greens Salad Dressing
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup avocado oil
- ¾ cup white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup dried cherries or equivalent of other dried fruit
- 2 tsp dry basil
- 2 Tbsp very dark maple syrup
Blend all together until smooth. You can add other seasonings if desired, but I find this dressing best to keep simple.