Tired of your spring salads already? Maybe you’ve just had enough of spinach, lettuce and kale (gasp!). Switch things up in your salad repertoire by introducing new greens into the mix. These five spring salad greens are a delight to use (and grow) for any green enthusiast. Here’s what they are and how to use them in your recipes for just the right pop.
The incredible edible “weed,” dandelion greens are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and immune-boosting nutrients. The flowers grow everywhere, so pick them fresh from a trusted source that’s free of chemicals, fertilizers or other environmental pollutants, or grow them in your home garden.
Use the younger, smaller greens when you can find them—they have a less bitter flavor than the older ones. Use the greens in salad mixes and garden sandwiches, and pair them with cream sauces or bacon recipes—those two ingredients will help to cut back on the robust bitter flavor of the greens.
Also called “lamb’s lettuce” or even “corn salad,” mâche is a tender, delicate salad green that’s quite lovely to use. The small, dark green leaves are often found at herb and salad greens vendors at farmers markets. In a home garden, it’s a great green to plant as it grows well throughout the year, even up until early winter.
Mâche greens have a nutty flavor that’s nice on its own, tossed in a light vinaigrette, or paired with almonds, vanilla, fruits and egg dishes.
This old-timey green doesn’t get much love in modern cuisine, but orach is a decorative and delicious salad green. It’s available in green, reddish or purple leaves, and it used to be a common garden plant. Today, you most likely won’t find it at any grocery store, but find the seeds and grow it yourself.
Use orach as you would spinach in most recipes—it’s tasty to use raw or cooked. Its colorful leaves also make it quite pretty in dishes, so use it as a presentational accent for spring and summer menus.
Purslane, like dandelion greens, has more of a reputation of being a weed today than for being a delicious and nutritious salad green. The small succulent plant is indeed a bit “weedy” looking, but it’s rich in vitamins, antioxidants and age-defying bioflavonoids.
The leaves of purslane are more vegetal than herb-like. They’re a bit thick with a nice texture and a lemony, sometimes peppery flavor. Add it to crunchy salads with bell peppers and cucumbers, or use it in summer soups. Try it lightly fried in olive oil with fresh herbs.
Sorrel is another old-timey, English-American herb that’s been lost to modern generations, which is too bad, since this green grows well in home gardens and is very nutritious.
Sorrel has a light lemon flavor with a delicate texture. Use it lightly cooked with goat cheese, eggs, fresh herbs and similar early summer-inspired dishes, especially traditional French or English recipes.
Image: ralph and jenny