Green is definitely in this spring — everything from sharp limes and chartreuse, to olive tones cued up from camouflage, and deep forest and emerald greens are decking out mannequins and savvy fashionistas in a totally ’70s redux.
And greens are hot in the fields of Pemberton, too. Local farms are pumping out everything from fresh young asparagus and salad greens to herbs like sweet cicely (boasting a pleasant licorice flavour and good cooked with things like rhubarb or currants to cut back the acidity) and lovage (add a few leaves to a salad for a zip of pungent, celery-like flavour).
I think a lot of people get all hung up on greens, literally — that is, stuck in a rut. Lettuce and mixed greens for salad. That’s it. Or maybe they branch out to raw spinach. Or cook a bundle up — overcook is usually more like it — in a pot of salted water till it’s a glob of green mush.
Most of us can handle asparagus, but again it’s often overcooked. (Try blanching a bundle in simmering water for three minutes max, then immersing it in cold water.) The mere mention of kale or Swiss chard can send shivers up the spines of many a stalwart eater, who can only picture them coming out of their mothers’ or grandmas’ kitchens more brown than green and limper than a dead jellyfish.
The thing about greens is that they really are versatile and with a little imagination and experimentation, you’ll find you can whip up a dish in a hurry where green veggies are the stars. The thing is to give them a fresh start, pun intended.
Here’s a great recipe that’s delicious, satisfying and quick to prepare. It’s also a good jumping off point because you can use so many varieties of greens and it gives you a fundamental base for cooking any kind of greens any time: Start by sautéing onion and/or garlic in a large flat-bottomed pan in some good oil. Add your harder veggies first and cook a while, covered, with a bit of water and/or broth (try carrots, zucchini, shitake or other mushrooms thinly sliced). Then add a handful or two of greens like kale or chard chopped according to how fresh and young it is — the coarser the leaves the finer you chop it — and cook them till you like the look and crunch of them.
Don’t worry about undercooking them — you can eat greens raw. Add herbs or spices as you like, a bit of acid like lemon juice or vinegar can be good, plus a pinch of salt, and you’re done.