Well, it seems like we are destined to have a cold wet spring, which always makes some vegetables thrive and others slow down. Unfortunately, last week there was a frost in the Bitterroot along with hail, setting back some of the warm weather veggies. Hopefully, once things warm up, most of the plants should rebound. In addition to more salad mix, this week’s share includes fresh chives, spearmint, and chocolate mint. Yellow dock and lamb’s quarters are also included; two greens that may be new to many of you.
Storage and Usage Notes
Chives: A delicate member of the onion family, chives provide a discreet onion flavor that works well with egg dishes, mild cream based sauces, or as a garnish to salads or soups. Chives are best used fresh and added at the end of cooking. Snip them with scissors or cut with a sharp knife straight across. Store fresh chives in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Mint: Mints are native to the Mediterranean and Western Asia but have now been widely cultivated into hundreds of varieties. Spearmint is the variety most widely used in cooking and provides the base for mint jelly. Chocolate mint, as the name implies, tastes of both chocolate and mint, making it perfect for desserts and homemade ice cream. Of course I always associate mint with drinking, whether it is hot tea, sun tea, mojitos or mint juleps. For a refreshing addition to summer beverages, mint leaves can be frozen in ice cubes (1-2 leaves per cube). Besides beverages, fresh mint can also make a nice addition to many cooked dishes. Mint pairs well with fruit salads, lamb, lentils, peas, pilafs, and yogurt dressing.
Mint is best stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator but if you don’t have a use for it fresh, it can also be dried for later use. To dry mint, cut back the stems, tie into small bundles and hang upside down in a warm airy room. When completely dry and crisp, strip leaves off stems and store in a glass jar away from light. Dried chocolate mint makes wonderful tea on a winter day.
Lamb’s quarters: This annual is considered a weed by many but is entirely edible; belonging to the spinach and beet family. The leaves are an excellent source of vitamin C and iron. If tender, leaves can be eaten raw in a salad. Lamb’s quarters can also be lightly cooked and substituted for spinach in many recipes, including lasagna and quiche. Treat leaves like salad greens when it comes to storage.
Yellow Dock: Part of large group of plants that belong to the genus Rumex native to Europe and Western Asia. Inedible varieties were used medicinally and several types of dock were traditionally used to wrap butter and help preserve it. Fortunately, many varieties are edible and can be treated like spinach. Yellow dock is going to have a bright lemon flavor that adds a nice tang to fresh salads. It also makes an excellent stuffing for whole roasted fish and pairs well with potatoes and eggs. Dock can be treated like spinach when cooking, just don’t cook it too long or it will turn mushy. If cooking with other greens add towards the end. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator; excess condensation will cause leaves to disintegrate so they are best used within a few days.
Spring Green Phyllo Rolls (makes 12 rolls)
Adapted from Greens, A Country Garden Cookbook by Sibella Kraus.
2 cups cooked lamb’s quarters, spinach or chard
1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
½ cup chopped tarragon, parsley or yellow dock
12 sheets of phyllo pastry (usually found in the freezer aisle of your grocery store)
Olive oil and pastry brush
You will need about 7 cups of uncooked greens to start with…greens really cook down! Preheat your pan over medium heat, rinse leaves and place in sauté pan. Stirring often, cook on medium heat until wilted. Drain in a colander and press or gently hand squeeze as much liquid as possible.
Make sure phyllo dough is thawed and have a clean damp kitchen towel handy. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine cooked greens, cheese, egg, and herbs. Work with 2 sheets of phyllo at a time and keep the others covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying. On a flat work surface, brush 1 sheet with olive oil and place other sheet on top, brushing lightly with olive oil. With a knife, divide sheets in two lengthwise.
Place 2 tablespoons of filling on one end of each strip tuck in sides and roll up. Brush end of rolls lightly with oil and press lightly to seal. Repeat with remaining sheets and filling. Place rolls seam side down on a baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with Yogurt Dressing.
Yogurt and Feta Dressing (makes 1 cup)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram
2 green onions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly milled pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until incorporated. Cover and chill 1 hour before serving. Will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator.