With spring in the air and the days getting longer, there’s an urge to move away from the comfort food of winter to something lighter and fresher.
One of my favourites for this season are spring greens, a member of the brassica family but more sophisticated than their cabbage cousins.
Unlike a cabbage, spring greens are a loose collection of leaves without the central heart, making them softer and easy on the plate.
And the great thing is they’re just as healthy and are packed with goodness, including Vitamin C, to boost your immune system, and Vitamin K, needed for healthy bones, along with masses of dietary fibre.
If you fancy growing your own, sow seed in trays or a seedbed in late July or August. Transplant the seedlings when they have three or four leaves, usually in September or October. Plants should be 15cm apart in rows that have 30cm between them.
You will be able to harvest your own taste of spring from April. Just make sure you guard against cabbage white butterflies and pigeons.
When you’re buying spring greens, choose fresh, vibrant leaves that have no sign of wilting.
Like all members of the cabbage family, they are best cooked lightly and are perfect added to stir fries or lightly steamed.
I love this easy recipe from Jamie Oliver for a side dish of spring greens that’s good with fish or grilled meats.
Simple Lemony Spring Greens
2tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
500g spring greens
Finely grate the lemon zest and put into a jam jar. Add the juice of half of the lemon – taking care to catch any pips.
Add the olive oil to the jar along with a little salt and pepper. Put the lid on and shake well. Check for taste and add more lemon juice or olive oil as needed.
Trim the spring greens by cutting in half lengthways and then finely slicing them.
Put 3cms of water into a large pan and bring to the boil. When it is boiling, add the spring greens and cook until just tender but still bright green.
Drain the spring greens into a colander, allow to dry for a minute and then put them back into the pan.
Shake the dressing again and then drizzle it over the greens. Use tongs to gently toss the spring greens in the dressing. Doing this while they are still hot will help them soak up the dressing. Transfer to a bowl and serve straight away.
Recipe taken from Jamie Oliver: https://www.jamieoliver.com/