Spring Harvest

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Crunchy Kale and Tender Arugula

Arugula watercolor by Robert Morris

After our usual Northwestern spring mix of near-freezing nights and milder days, with heavy rains and wild winds, it is delightful to find much of my over-wintered kale still edible in May. In fact, a touch of frost leaves the cole family sweeter and crisper than ever, just like leeks. Arugula, too, leafed out early and has been productive since April, whether the weather is nasty or nice.

Most of my daily salads involve kale as well as spinach and some kind of cabbage. In winter, I steam the tougher stems and stem-end foliage or use them in stir-fries, saving the more tender leaf tips for eating raw.  Now the new growth on the fall plantings is tender and crunchy and utterly delicious raw or cooked.

Revel In the Greens

Our spring salads are beautified and enriched with a variety of kales, from bold red Russian and rippled black Tuscan to frilly Scotch and blue-green Winterbor. If they get a little tough over time, all are equally lovely when shredded or sliced into ribbons and quickly cooked with a little olive oil and garlic. A touch of sea salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon or lime juice makes them utterly scrumptious (sometimes that’s all I need for dinner!).

When Spring Arrives…

My spring greens have been in the ground for weeks now, though the nights have been too cold for summery things to go in. The peas are starting to come in and their delectable new tendrils are among my favorite salad additions (they also make a pretty garnish for soups or grilled fish).

Now that it’s finally warm enough to plant, I’ll add some of the Asian choys, fast-growing cool weather crops that taste sweetest in spring and fall. Bok choy and joi choy are especially strong performers in the chilly springs we’ve had in recent years.

Kitchen Tips

Like cabbage, Asian choys must be harvested as a whole plant. Compost any tough outer leaves and use the tender inner ones raw or lightly cooked.

Shred the sweet-hot leaves of Asian choys into salads, stir-fries, and soups.

Add shredded Nappa cabbage or bok choy to fish tacos and tuna salads.

Toss torn young kale with salads, shred it on sandwiches, or sliver it into  soup for a crunchy garnish.

Toss shredded kale with crinkled Savoy cabbage, tangerine sections, and pomegranate seeds for a sparkling winter salad.

Colorful and healthy, Spring Citrus Salad offers delightful contrasts of flavor and texture, from crunchy kale to juicy oranges, while savory pumpkin seeds add extra protein.

Spring Citrus Salad With Zippy Orange Dressing

2 cups Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
2 cups Winterbore or blue kale, finely shredded
2 cups spinach, stemmed
1/2 cup arugula, sliced in ribbons
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/2 cup pea vine tendrils (optional)
1 blood orange, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup Zippy Orange Dressing (see below)

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and gently toss. Serves 4-6.

Zippy Orange Dressing

1/2 cup virgin olive oil or rice oil
2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
1 organic orange, juiced, rind grated
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
2-3 drops chipotle Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in a jar, starting with smaller amounts where indicated. Close tightly, shake well to emulsify, adjust seasoning to taste. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Makes about 1 cup.

Kale and Cabbage Slaw With Lively Lime Dressing

Pretty, healthy, and lively with cilantro, Kale and Cabbage Slaw partners shredded greens with fresh lime dressing. Try this spunky dressing with steamed vegetables or grilled fish as well.

Kale and Cabbage Slaw

2 cups Black Tuscan kale, finely shredded
3 cups Nappa cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup cilantro, stemmed
4 green onions, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup Lively Lime Dressing

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, toss gently and serve. Serves 4-6.

Lively Lime Dressing

1/2 cup virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 organic lime, juiced, rind grated
1/3 cup orange juice
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Combine all ingredients in a jar, close tightly, shake well to emulsify. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Makes about 2 cups.

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