At the Farmers Market: Spring Greens

By Debbie Koenig

This time of year, every trip to the farmers market comes with a whiff of anticipation: What new item will be available this week? Yesterday I spotted the first strawberries and nearly swooned. Close inspection showed they had been picked while mostly white, though, so my dreams of red juice running down my fingers will have to wait. Meanwhile, the variety of young, tender greens on offer has become staggering. One booth alone had nearly a dozen different options, including several I’ve never heard of (komatsuna, anyone?). Naturally, I stuffed bags full of leaves to experiment with.

Baby kale abounds at my local market, so I’ve been eating a lemony baby kale salad for lunch at least twice a week: Toss 2 cups of baby kale with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and let that sit for a few minutes. Add ½ Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp grated parm, and 2 Tbsp toasted sliced almonds, plus a bit of salt and pepper, and toss again. Makes one substantial portion for just 5 SmartPoints® value.

I’m also seeing baby bok choy a lot — Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Lime Butter (2 SmartPoints value/serving) is on the menu for this weekend.

Since my husband hates salmon, silly man, one night next week when he’s out I’ll be trying Asian-Spiced Salmon with Baby Bok Choy and Shiitakes. (10 SmartPoints value/serving) A half-recipe ought to give me a satisfying dinner and a delicious salad or two for subsequent lunches.

Arugula seems to be in every booth at the farmers market. I use it in salads regularly, but I like to mix things up by cooking it occasionally—like in Sautéed Arugula and Beans Over Orecchiette. (9 SmartPoints value/serving). That’ll make a perfect spring supper.

Less widely available but no less tempting, pea shoots have a relatively short season. If you see some at your farmers market, grab ’em and make Pea Shoots and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-Fry. (2 SmartPoints value/serving) They cook so quickly, the whole thing’s ready in less than 15 minutes.

Top almost any tender greens with other seasonal vegetables, like asparagus and snap peas, and you’ve got Spring Vegetable Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. (6 SmartPoints value/serving) Goat cheese makes this substantial enough for lunch.

When you can’t make it to the farmers market, you’ll always find baby spinach at the supermarket. Garlicky Spinach and Fontina Pizza (7 SmartPoints value/serving) combines baby spinach with several of my favorite flavors: artichokes, olives, and nutty fontina cheese.

Another supermarket option: Pick up a package of spring mix. Mixed Green and Chickpea Salad with Dijon-Tarragon Vinaigrette (3 SmartPoints value/serving) is super-simple, but the addition of fresh tarragon and canned chickpeas takes it a step or two away from the everyday.

What’s your favorite way to eat fresh spring greens? Tell me on Connect @debbieskoenig! 

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