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Eat your (lemony spring) greens!

Eat your (lemony spring) greens!

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It’s no secret that getting kids to eat their greens can be a challenge. In fact, recent studies suggest that kids have an in-built instinct to be cautious of vegetables, inherited from our ancestors who would have to be wary of poisonous plants in the wild. But that doesn’t mean your child will never eat their greens – with a bit of persistence and help from our tips below, even the most fussy of eaters can enjoy their veg.

Our aim at Jamie Oliver HQ is to get kids excited about food. Our top tip is to get your kids involved in the kitchen. If a child has had the opportunity to take part in their food preparation, they feel more invested in a meal and far more likely to try that unknown scary green food that they would normally reject. This lemony spring greens recipe is a good one to start with. Get your kids involved from the start – take them to the shops to buy the ingredients; let them pick which lemons they would like to use and help them choose the freshest-looking spring greens.

Children love cooking, so even if they tell you they HATE spring greens, they’re unlikely to turn down the opportunity to fill up the pan with water or zest the lemon (watching out for those little fingers of course). Make it as fun as you can, challenge them to see how strong they are by asking them to squeeze out as much lemon juice as they can into a big bowl!

Adding some flavour

If you read our blog last week you will know how you can make a salad a hundred times more exciting with a simple jam jar dressing. Well, that doesn’t have to stop with salad! A pile of boiled green veg doesn’t appeal to anyone, so be imaginative with your flavours to make veg more tempting to your kids. Get them to help you steam or boil and drain the greens, then get them to toss them in the lovely lemony dressing. You might think it odd to dress vegetables like a salad, but believe us the dressing will be absorbed into the hot greens, adding flavour and making them much more exciting to a child than just your average green vegetable.

Hopefully your kids will be so happy with what they have achieved they will be excited to taste it too, but it’s not always that easy! Kids love their food to be arranged nicely on the plate, so make it look fun and make sure the portion size is manageable. It’s important not to force your kids to eat their greens, but it is equally important to encourage them to try. We always ask the children we work with to try just one bite of a food to see if they like it. If they don’t, fair enough, but it’s important to praise them for trying. Depending on their age, children sometimes need to try a food 8 to 15 times before they start to like it, so keep persevering. More often than not you will catch a child taking one very unsure initial bite, only to find them five minutes later asking for seconds!

Good luck, and let us know how you get on by sharing your stories and pictures below, or on Twitter and Facebook.

How to cook spring greens

As their name suggests, spring greens are at their best in the spring and summer months. They are deep green in colour, but have one distinct feature that separates them from all the other types of cabbage: they don’t have a central ‘heart’, so are simply a bundle of leaves connected at the root. Spring greens are a cost efficient, easy to prepare vegetable.

Lemony Spring Greens

Finely grate the zest of the lemon(s) and place into a sealable container.

Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the container, making sure to catch any seeds.

Add in the extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper before sealing and shaking the container until everything is combined.

Have a taste and see whether you think it needs a bit more lemon juice or oil – you want it to be slightly too acidic, so that it’s still nice and zingy once you’ve dressed your spring greens.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and cut the spring greens in half before finely slicing them.

Once the water is boiling, carefully add the spring greens and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender but still bright green in colour.

Once cooked, drain the spring greens, steam dry for a minute, then tip back into the pan.

Drizzle over the dressing whilst the spring greens are still hot and serve straight away. Enjoy!

Spring greens recipes

The first cabbages of the year with rich dark leaves and a strong flavour.

Spring greens with lemon dressing

Serve up nutritious greens with fresh garlic and lemon flavours for a healthy and versatile side dish

Spring cabbage with mustard seeds

Give your greens a fresh new look by tossing them with mustard, ginger, onion and garlic

Spring greens & gammon soup

This rustic broth is deliciously meaty and worth cooking a gammon for, or using up leftover ham

Spring greens with black pepper & crème fraîche

The perfect accompaniment to a hearty roast

Indian spiced greens

This recipe suits any greens you have to hand – from shredded kale to Brussels sprouts. For the less adventurous, less chilli can be used

Spring Greens Pasta in a Lemony White Wine Sauce

This gluten-free and vegetarian pastacomes together quickly for an easy and delicious meal has all the Spring feels.

Light, Bright, Fresh-tasting and Delish!

With Spring just around the corner, I wanted to lighten up the flavor of this week’s Sunday sauce and this dish has all the Spring feels.

And this fresh tasting gluten-free and vegetarian pasta comes together quickly for an easy and delicious meal! It’s simply Gluten-free spaghetti, asparagus, petite peas, marinated artichokes, fresh baby spinach and fresh Parmesan in a light Lemony White Wine Sauce.

This is all you need: White wine, Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest, garlic, crushed red pepper (optional but recommended), vegetable broth, marinated artichokes, frozen petite peas, fresh asparagus, fresh baby spinach, Parmesan, salt, pepper and your favorite gluten-free spaghetti.

Here we used Barilla gluten-free spaghetti because is it what we had in the house. You can read more about our favorite gluten-free pasta brands.

This dish comes together really quickly so I recommend having everything chopped and measured out before you start.

The first thing is to quickly blanch the asparagus… I like to set the big pot of pasta water to boil, then before cooking the pasta, drop in the cut asparagus for a minute or two to get them tender and bright green. Then I scoop them out using a slotted spoon and place them in a strainer. Rather than immersing them in ice water as is traditional for blanching, I run the strainer under cold water and it works well!

Then start the sauce — simmering the garlic, a pinch of crush red pepper, white wine and vegetable broth while the pasta cooks. Just before taking the pasta out, add the artichokes, asparagus and peas and simmer. And reserve a cup of pasta water to add to the sauce as needed.

Then add the cooked pasta (very al dente because it will cook an additional few minutes with the sauce) to the sauce.

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and Parmesan and stir to combine. The spaghetti absorbs so much flavor. You can add reserved pasta water at any time to make the sauce a consistency you prefer. Lastly add in the fresh baby spinach and toss until the spinach starts to wilt. It comes together quickly for easy and yummy meal.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Inspired by a recipe from Eating Well

Scroll down for recipe and leave a comment if you try.

Beaverton Farmers Market – Eat Your Spring Greens!

Grasping at every opportunity to find a reason to celebrate and enjoy life, we are excited about another lovely forecast for this Saturday’s Market. Gorgeous Spring days are perfect for cooking all of the green vegetables your heart desires. Forget about the fact that they are healthy, we eat them because they are versatile and delicious. Some are sweet, some are spicy and some are better cooked than raw.

We know that all of this leafiness can get confusing so we thought that we would take a minute to help you sort them all out and suggest tasty ways to prepare the many greens you will find in our growers stalls. While we will be talking mostly about the greens that are cooked, don’t forget that delicate salad mixes are also available now as are bags of tender baby arugula and bunches of watercress for lovely light salads. We are especially fond of pizzas topped with a zingy arugula salad like this one from Ina Garten. You can make your pizza dough from scratch according to her recipe or make your life easier by starting with one read- to-go from Pizza Crust Creations.

Photo courtesy of Food Network

Don’t forget to pick up a few trays of micro greens at Le Petit Jardin. It is amazing how the tiniest little greens pack such a powerful flavor punch. Choose from a rotating menu of broccoli, sunflower, kale, arugula, basil, leek and 5 types of radish greens. Also fun are the two proprietary mixes – Spicy or Mellow, that owners Michael and Tammy Hager craft for market goers. Naturally microgreens are packed with nutrients but we love them because they are delicious.

Lemon is a flavor that has a natural affinity for Spring greens of all kinds and is a common ingredient in Spring vegetable recipes. This makes the Lemon Pepper pasta from Esotico Pasta a natural to go with almost any Spring green in the market. Add some exotic mushrooms from The Mushroomery such as Shittakes, Hedgehogs or Black Trumpets and you will have the ultimate Spring dish.

Warm Regards,

The Beaverton Farmers Market

We will see you all this Saturday at the Market, from 10AM-1:30PM!

Do you get confused when you hear the words “rabe”,”raab”, “rapini” or “broccolini” used in recipes? Let us help you sort this out because you will find some of these green vegetables in the market this weekend.

First, a little taxonomy — Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicacae, known as Brassicas or Crucifers. They include: cauliflower, broccoli, mustard greens, arugula, bok choy, kales and cabbages to name a few.
Now, a little clarification.

  • Broccolini is NOT baby broccoli. It is a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli with long stems, larger florets, and less leaves. It is less bitter than some of its relatives which is why it is often thought of as baby broccoli.
  • Rapini and Broccoli Rabe are close cousins and are often used interchangeably. They are in the same subspecies as the turnip hence they have the characteristically slightly bitter taste of this group. They do not form the large heads that we see in broccoli.
  • The flower buds of brassicas from the turnip family are often referred to as rabe, or raab, derived from rapa which means turnip in Italian. This time of the year, you will find the rabes of many types of brassicas in the market – kale, mustard greens, Brussels Sprouts, turnips, bok choy and Chinese cabbage.

While each of these are from a common family there are slight differences in taste between them. With each, you are meant to eat the stems, buds and leaves making them very easy to prep for cooking. Don’t be alarmed if the buds have begun to show their yellow flowers. Some feel that the flowers are a sweeter version of the parent plant.

All of the aforementioned brassicas are excellent, roasted, sautéed or lightly steamed. We don’t recommend boiling because it is easy to overcook the leaves in boiling water. The usual additions of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes makes for an easy and delicious preparation. Finish your dish with salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Marketing Director, Kate Laubernds, shared that with broccolini, raabs, and kalettes she loves to grill or roast and finish with lemon juice and garnishing flake salt and ground flax seed. The flax seed adds a nice bit of nuttiness and elevates this simple side dish.

We also suggest that you try tossing your raabs with a Balsamic vinegar reduction. The reduction’s sweet finish balances the bitter quality of the greens. We like to keep a balsamic reduction in the refrigerator to have on hand as needed. It is delicious drizzled on salads, fresh vegetables, fish and meats.

Basic Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Boil in a small saucepan until reduced by half (one cup). You can continue to boil for a thicker glaze type consistency. You may add a clove of garlic, minced, or fresh herbs such as thyme. Be sure to strain those out before storing.

Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale), Black Kale or Tuscan Kale

Are you confused about the many varieties of kale and how to use them? We found this video from The Spruce to be interesting and informative.

Lacinato kale is abundant in the market right now so we wanted to share some of our favorite ways to use this versatile and delicious veggie.

Raw Kale & Apple Salad with Fontina and Lemon Vinaigrette

1 bunch of Lacinato Kale
1 – 2 crisp apples
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup finely grated fontina cheese
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp red chili flakes

Slice the kale very thinly, as if for a coleslaw. Core the apples and slice thinly. Toss the sliced apples with the raw kale. Mix together the lemon juice, cider vinegar and olive oil. Add in salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

Toss the raw kale and apple with the dressing – be sure to start light on the dressing and take care not to ‘overdress’ the salad. Toss in the fontina cheese. Adjust seasonings, if needed.

Don’t Get Stung By This Leafy Green!

With this next green you might get stung, but did you know it’s good for your health? Stinging Nettle is a plant that has been touted for relieving symptoms from a host of ailments including arthritis, allergies, diabetes, hypertension, urinary tract infections, among others. Stinging nettle is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and protein, which is why it’s a popular herbal remedy.

We love the health benefits of nettle, but it’s also just a really tasty green. Nettles have a bright flavor similar to spinach and can be used in a host of recipes from tea to pesto, sautéed, or atop pizza (our personal favorite). Cookbook author, Sharon Palmer, shared on her blog all about nettles from growing to handling and preparing nettles for recipes, and a handful of recipes. You can find nettles at Winters Farm booth throughout spring.

Dandelion greens, with their slightly bitter flavor, are a great counterpoint to rich foods.

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Harvesting Wild Greens

Spring is the prime time to forage for wild greens, there are many different plants available at this time. These same greens may also send up new growth in fall.

Ramps and fiddlehead ferns require extra respect when harvesting. Overharvesting is a concern for both as they take several years to grow and multiply. Only harvest what you will use and never harvest more than 2 ramps from one cluster or 2 fiddleheads from one plant. Also, break off the ramp root tip and replant to ensure new growth each year. Some regions have been devastated with overharvesting.

Always use gloves to harvest nettle as it will sting! Use an herbal salve on the sting site if you are stung.

Harvest nettle, violet, chickweed, dandelion, garlic mustard, and lamb’s quarters freely and abundantly. Harvesting for edible purposes will not affect the populations of these plants, they grow abundantly in most regions. Garlic mustard is an invasive weed that most people despise, why not eat this weed to control it!

Note: Do not harvest wild food in places that use chemicals! Avoid treated lawns, railroad tracks, busy roads, or anywhere chemicals may have leached into the ground.

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23 Ways to Eat Greens (That Aren't Salads)

By now we’re probably much better at appreciating the fiber-filled, vitamin-rich, and antioxidant benefits of the green vegetables we fought so hard not to eat when we were kids (sorry, Mom!). Luckily there are plenty of ways to incorporate them into meals without getting stuck in a salad rut. From broccoli at breakfast to peas for dessert (really!), these recipes prove that when it comes to any meal, it’s easy to be green.

1. Kale and Garlic Frittata

Putting kale in egg dishes is becoming a lot more popular these days, and it’s easy to see why. Sturdier than spinach, these vision-protecting, calcium-touting leaves can maintain their slightly chewy texture through the baking process and lend a pretty green color to the frittata ribbons.

2. Tofu Scramble With Spring Greens

Even those on a plant-based diet can use a boost in their green intake, and this recipe helps them do it in the most delicious way. In fact, the garlic and turmeric-spiced broccoli, peas, and spinach sautéed with tofu is so flavorful even meat eaters may opt for this savory breakfast alternative to eggs.

3. Spinach Pancakes

If it wasn’t for that giveaway color, you wouldn’t be able to tell that there are two full cups of spinach in this fluffy, sweet breakfast stack. St. Patrick would totally approve, but go ahead and make this any day of the year.

4. Asparagus, Pea, and Gruyère Spring Omelette

A generous handful of cheese makes this fresh, fluffy omelet a tad bit richer than what you’d typically whip up every day. But, as a once-in-a-while breakfast, this delicious option can’t be beat.

5. Ham and Vegetable Breakfast Casserole

Great to fix for a group brunch or simply as a dish that will last a few days, this bake balances meat, cheese, and egg with an entire container of frozen spinach, plus green peppers for extra vitamin C. Just a serving will put you well on your way to meeting your veggie requirements for the day.

6. Fruit-Free Green Smoothie

Drink your greens with this breakfast smoothie that features four varieties of them! You won’t find the typical banana or berries in this recipe, but the natural sweetness of coconut water and cucumber cut the spice from the parsley. Plus, the creamy avocado provides healthy fats to help power you through the morning.

7. Chicken Quinoa Collard Wraps

Use collard greens as a substitute for a tortilla wrap. The thick-stemmed leaves of this chronic disease-preventing veggie are perfect for holding the bulkier ingredients, like chicken breast and quinoa, and their chewy texture will leave you feeling like you’ve had a hearty meal.

8. Green Monster Veggie Burger

Peas, kale, broccoli, and celery make these vegan burgers big in both size and nutritional benefits, providing fiber and antioxidants. Blended with oats, breadcrumbs, and walnuts, the jumbo patties would make just as filling a meal on their own as they do piled onto buns with all the fixins.

9. Super Greens Soup

Just one serving of this soup boasts three and a half cups of greens. Plus, since it can be ready in about 30 minutes and is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, it’s incredibly easy to get in your veggies for the day.To give it more of a protein punch, top with grilled chicken.

10. Better Than Restaurant Falafel

True to its title, this version of the Middle Eastern chickpea favorite is a step up from restaurant falafel. First, they’re pan-cooked rather than fried, saving you a good amount of oil, and second, they pack in four entire cups of nutrient-dense collard greens. Put them in a pita or eat them on their own.

11. Lemony Chicken Soup With Greens

Simmered chicken breast, chickpeas, and a bag of spinach may seem like the ingredients for a sick day soup, but here they’re kicked up with a heaping spoonful or two of cinnamon and a hearty squeeze of lemon. You definitely don’t need to be under the weather to for this bowl to hit the spot.

12. Green Goddess Sandwich

Though it gets its name from the famous salad dressing, this sandwich has none of the mayonnaise or anchovy fillets that the condiment usually contains. Instead, it earns its title with all the green veggies packed between whole-wheat bread, from thick slices of avocado and cucumber to watercress and cilantro leaves.

Pea Shoots

The delicate young leaves, tendrils and stems of pea plants have long been beloved in Southeast Asian, Chinese and Japanese cooking, and only recently have North American chefs caught on to using pea shoots in stir-fries and salads. The shoots have a sweet, pealike flavor and are rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that helps your body regulate calcium. Look for them in Asian grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Tip: If your pea shoots have longer stems, cut them into smaller pieces and cook the stems for a bit longer than the delicate tendrils.

How to Cook (and Not Cook) With Sorrel, Spring's Most Astringent Green

If you've never tried sorrel, be prepared to pucker up. This spring green is packed with potent astringency and a lemony, citrus-like flavor. It bump up the acidic quality of salads (just use less vinegar or lemon juice), and is great eaten raw. It also cooks down quickly in a sauté pan. It gets "mushy," which makes it ideal for blending into sauces and vinaigrettes.

Sorrel adds some kick to this simple salad.

Use a variety of greens, or the flavor will be too assertive. We like mizuna, tat soi, and dandelion greens.

Sorrel brings new meaning to the term "green juice."

Sorrel Rice Bowls with Poached Eggs. Photo: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

Sorrel combines with olive oil to make a simple but well-balanced sauce.

Sorrel + mint + parsley = salsa verde magic.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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