Bring a little vibrancy back to your plates and replace the now somewhat tired and lack-luster winter veg with the spring greens coming into season just at the right time.
Riverford founder and farmer, Guy Watsons, welcomes this time of year with open arms, excited to start harvesting some of the first greens of the season…
“Spring greens are winter hardy cabbages sown in July or August and harvested when green vegetables are scarce (January to April) as immature, loose heads without hearts. In a good year, they bring a youthful freshness when winter veg is getting dull and tired. Every season is different. At their best, spring greens can be sweet and tender, but after a hard winter, they can verge on tough and bitter (let’s say ‘robust’) and need more cooking; you will get a pretty good idea when you are chopping them.
In the calendar of cabbages, spring greens are closely followed in June by ‘summer greens’, the first, fast-growing cabbage, which would mature into a hearted pointed hispi cabbage if they were given the chance. Boiled or steamed, they need very little cooking. I can eat mountains of them on their own, but they’re even better with butter and a squeeze of lemon. You will find spring greens in our veg box most weeks throughout May and June.”
Spring greens can be eaten raw in coleslaw, stirred into curries, stews, soup and noodle bowls, fried with Indian or Chinese flavours for a simple side dish, or simply simmered.
Try simmering them in:
* a spring or early summer minestrone full of green goodness, i.e. courgettes, peas, asparagus etc.
* a pot of beans, chickpeas or lentils. Some bacon or chorizo is a particularly good match here.
* a pot of boiling pasta a few minutes before the pasta will be done. You need to judge the timing right, but it saves using two pans. Drain the pasta and greens and return to the warm pan to toss with butter, olive oil or cream, and plenty of Parmesan and black pepper.
* a hearty meaty stew, to add a touch of spring. You could also add some wild garlic leaves right at the end (allowing just enough time for them to wilt).