Featured food: spring greens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring greens available all winter long — just one of the happy wonders of our food supply chain.

I’ve become quite attached to washed-ready-to-eat spring greens over the past few months.  Making a quick tossed salad is a snap.  The taste and crunch of fresh greens is a treat.  Not to mention they pack a major nutritional punch.

Serving couldn’t be easier

  1. The easiest thing to do with spring greens is put a handful (or two) in a salad bowl and toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  The perfect side dish for grilled meat or fish, pasta, a grain casserole or soup and bread.
  2. If you’ve got a few more minutes for food prep, add sliced cucumbers or radishes, shopped sun dried tomatoes, sweet peppers, grated carrots, sugar snap peas or red onion.
  3. Make it more interesting with slices of pear or apple, or dried cranberries.
  4. If salad is your main dish, add nuts (walnuts, pecans), cooked legumes like chick peas, grated cheese, tofu or leftover cooked meat for protein.

Spring greens mixes emphasize green: spinach, beet greens, arugula, chard, oak leaf lettuces, romaine, mustard greens, radicchio and other leafy greens.  The flavor is rich.  They’re also rich in nutrients:

  • fiber
  • vitamin A
  • calcium
  • iron
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • folate

Plus: very low calorie (30 calories in 2 cups), non-fat, no sugar and low sodium

greens stuffed into the plastic container may rot more easily

greens stuffed into the plastic container may rot more easily

What could be wrong with spring greens?

Here’s one thing that can go wrong: the greens are usually packed so tightly in the plastic tub container that they start to deteriorate before you’ve used them up.  If the greens smell like compost when you open the package, they’re going bad.  Because there are so many little leaves, it’s difficult to pick out the rotting bits.  While this isn’t necessarily dangerous to health, it’s not something you’ll want to eat.  End result: it’s a waste of your money.

What to do?

If you buy pre-packaged greens, check the Sell By date before purchasing.  And once you get them home, use them in a timely fashion.  Perishable foods don’t last long, even in your refrigerator.  If you can’t use a large 1 lb package, buy smaller packages.  They may seem more expensive, but are cheaper in the long run if you don’t have to toss more of it out.  The convenience and nutritional value of these tiny leaves make them worth it.

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