The garden has been slow to develop this winter. Now that it is definitely spring, I am finding more growth and response. I love the way the flowering bulbs pop their heads up early showing promises for the coming glory.
At this time of year, I have a sideyard full of oxalis providing delicious lemon yellow color all day long. The tantalizing scent of narcissus is filling the house. Intoxicating!
While today the first, and most fragrant, of the freesias (the yellow ones) are opening to fill the air with their own lovely fragrance.
The broccoli I planted last spring (what’s still standing of it) is finally offering us baby broccoli to put in the salad. The “winter” crop of broccoli is also finally giving us something to eat. This year we discovered that the greens are as tasty as the heads. They provide a delicious and nutritious option to chard, kale or cabbage.
The hearty mustard is with us this at this time of year also. Mustard is my favorite of the naturalized plants. Though many people don’t like them as they are not truly “native”, I enjoy the happy yellow mustard blossoms. And their greens are delicious! Nothing like wandering out in the yard and picking fresh mustard greens to add to a dish. It’s only available for a limited time each year and that makes it doubly precious. Come and get some in the next week while they’re still around!
The garlic chives are doing quite well also. I’ve tried for years to grow onion chives with little success. For some reason, I always get aphids on them and they die. So, I’m very please that the garlic chives are doing well!
When I have vegetables in the garden, I love to peruse my cookbooks (yes, actual books!) and find recipes to make featuring what’s fresh. One of my favorite cookbook authors is Mollie Katzen. I found a recipe that I hadn’t tried before in her Moosewood Cookbook. It’s called Warm Salad. I love the use of the fresh greens mixed with the other vegetables. I added my baby purple broccoli and some broccoli leaves instead of the escarole. You can see how gorgeous the broccoli is after its cooked. It starts out purple and turns a bright green with cooking! I used my spring onions instead of leeks and it was delicious. Here’s the recipe from the book:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small bunch escarole, chopped
1 medium bunch red or green chard, chopped
8 large napa or savoy cabbage leaves, chopped
2 cups chopped mustard greens
1 – 2 tsp. salt 1 stalk celery, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced 1/2 small cauliflower, chopped
2 medium leeks, chopped 3 Tbsp. balsamic or wine vinegar
2 cups red onion, chopped 6 Tbsp. or more parmesan
3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced fresh black pepper
1) Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large wok or deep skillet. Add the escarole, chard, cabbage and mustard greens, a little at a time, salting lightly after each addition, and adding more greens as soon as the ones in the pot cook down enough to make room. Use a fairly intense level of heat under the pot, and stir as you cook. When all the greens are wilted and tender, stir in the garlic. Cook and stir just a minute or two more, then transfer to a platter.
2) Add the remaining oil to the wok or skillet, and when it is hot add leeks, onion, mushrooms, celery and cauliflower (I added the broccoli here). Salt lightly, and stir-fry quickly over medium-high heat until just tender (about 5-8 minutes). Add to the platter, mix gently to incorporate the greens and sprinkle with vinegar and parmesan while still hot. (I put the greens back in the pan to mix. Then I had each family member take a serving and sprinkle their own vinegar and cheese individually. That way, the leftovers can be reheated and taste fresh tomorrow.)