So, now that we’ve had a few days of sun I am overrun with mesclun, romaine and spinach. Here are some of my plans to “deal” with that “problem”.
Obvious, yes. Bad idea? No! There is NOTHING better than a nice fresh salad with greens. You don’t need anything else either, if you want you can just make a nice dressing and have a plain green mix. Of course there’s the other route too – I tend to add the greens and one of each of the following: a fruit (tomato, apple, avocado or cucumber for example); a nut or seed (almonds, sprouted beans, walnuts etc); a protein (chicken, tofu, goat’s cheese); and a veggie (grated carrot or beets). For dressings I am more open. I love using the ends of jellies if I have something appropriate, and I always end up balancing something sweet (a quince jelly, maple syrup, or a honey mustard) with either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Then something nutty (soy sauce, bragg’s or miso), some salt and pepper and an appropriate spice if wanted. I try to match the dressing to the fruit. For example apple and curry go great together, miso and cucumber pair nicely and tomato goes nicely with cumin or mustard. Of course you can always make a nice Caesar salad with the romaine. I’d love to hear your recipes for the dressing – I’ve never made my own from scratch! There, I admitted it. You can also put your greens in a grilled sandwich – I love spinach in mine. It’s strong enough to withstand the heat. So are some of the mesclun mixes and romaine, but I think the spinach’s flavour does best in the heat.
So you want something heartier than a salad? Make a side dish – I like to sautee spinach in butter with garlic, onion, portabello or shitaake mushrooms and a little lemon.
Spinach also makes a lovely soup if you went really nuts with your planting. I find a straight spinach soup a little too rich, so I’d recommend something you bulk up with lentils or chickpeas – like this soup: http://www.homemakers.com/food-and-recipes/mediterranean-tomato-lentil-and-spinach-soup/r/7682. I also love making saag paneer, and my favourite recipe for that is from Vij’s new book “Vij’s at Home”.
You can only eat so much at once. I’m not sure you can preserve salad greens, but spinach has a few options. You can either blanch and freeze it to use later – great for lasagna, soups, spanikopita etc. – or you can make a soup and can that. Don’t forget that if you are canning a soup you need a pressure canner. I don’t have one yet, but I’m on the lookout! Here’s a link for instructions on freezing: http://www.simplycanning.com/freezing-spinach.html. It took me all of 3 minutes to blanch, cool and dry my spinach, I really recommend it since spinach is so quick to bolt.