Garden Lifestyle

Salad Days Are Here Again

Spring is one of my favorite seasons--not just for the abounding, burgeoning green--the gustatory delights are bountiful too!

  • Salad spinner full of fresh picked greens, with a new garlic for the vinaigrette. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Although we call them salad greens--they come in many colors--supposedly the darker the color of the leaves--the more nutrients they have.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • The movement of a garden pinwheel helps deter garden varmints like rabbits and deer; I have them stratigically placed throughout the garden--and move them from time to time.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Butterheads ready to harvest.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Still harvesting chickweed to add to the salad bowl. It tastes similar to a mild spinach and is full of nutrients.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Violet leaves are also a seasonal addition to spring salads for their nutritional virtues.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • I love the color of the purple and red lettuces in the salad bowl.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Washed and spun dry and ready to dress. It will keep well wrapped in a cloth or paper towel and kept in the crisper drawer for about 24 hours.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

Spring is one of my favorite seasons–not just for the abounding, burgeoning green–the gustatory delights are bountiful too! There is nothing like a variety of fresh grown greens, just harvested, washed quickly and served immediately, dressed very simply.

Right now, the palate is assuaged with all of the tastes since salad greens run the gamut from sweet (baby lettuces, tender dill and chervil) to sour (sorrel, wood sorrel, purslane) and bitter (radicchio, chicories and endive) and are full of mineral salts, some are even pungent (arugula, nasturtium, cilantro, mustards, cress). Adding some wild weeds that grow right out there with the greens like dandelion, chickweed and violet leaves provide even more tastes as well as texture, not to mention the added nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

While I sow many greens directly into the garden earth, I cannot help picking up the occasional market pack from the farmers’ market or garden center. I am especially fortunate that my gardening friend Deborah Hall, starts many varieties on her backporch deck and shares them with me. Truly my salad bowl runneth over and I am thankful every night when I delight in the array of greens on my plate.

I generally eat my salad course after my entree, as they do in Europe. It cleanses the palate and the fiber helps us to digest our food. It is like a concerto after the main meal, which I look forward to–for me it is better than dessert. Sometimes, I add tomatoes, cucumbers or spring onion when they are in season. Currently, I am harvesting the first baby radishes, sweet, crunchy with a hint of pungency, so they are a colorful and tasty accompaniment this week.

However mostly I just like a bowl of greens, with a handful of herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice. I do make a house vinaigrette which my family loves; I consider it my “little black dress” dressing–it is basic, tasteful and goes with everything. /item/127975/basic-vinaigrette-variations

The good thing about greens is that many of them germinate quickly and are ready to havest in 30 to 45 days. So it is not too late to sown your own right now. You’ll be glad that you did. Don’t miss out on the chance to eat tender garden greens that just can’t be had from the grocery store! Leftover seed is great to sow again in September for a fall crop of salad greens.




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