Spring Greens – What are they EXACTLY?

Springgreenrisotto

Let’s be honest, they are not very photogenic…but on a plate, they are heavenly with their silky soft texture and sweet flavour. 

But, actually, we often get asked exactly what Spring Greens are….Spring/Winter greens are much the same thing and the term gets used for all kinds of surplus leaf.

So the leaves from thinning out turnips, cauliflower, cabbage and other brassicas are known as greens.  But, the leaves that we sell as Spring Greens are a cultivar of Brassica oleracea, kind of similar to kale.  These greens are a sort of cabbage without a heart –  a loosely held together bouquet of densely fleshed leaves.

But all veg afficionados will know very well that brassicas don’t represent just any old cabbage – each variety has its own flavour and texture.  Greens are generally more on the delicate side, so are perfect for using instead of spinach in dishes where you need the leaf to hold up to a slightly longer cooking time.

‘Eat your greens’ is a term not to be ignored in the winter months, as greens are rich in Vitamin C, fibre and folates making them a bit of a seasonal superfood…which is why they have remained the quiet heros of Northern European winter cooking.

How to cook them

Sweated in butter with lemon – perfect.

Chinese restaurants tend to use greens for their crispy seaweed.  You can do the same easily enough but just rolling, chopping finely and sizzling.

Use instead of spinach in curries – for more texture and sweetness

They love being served with a creamy cheese like fontina – try shredding greens in a Calzone…and why not use a creamy Sussex cheese like Flower Marie, Levin Down or Lord London?

Blend with garlic, walnuts, parmesan and creme fraiche for a creamier pesto type pasta sauce.

Don’t apologise for their presence and use as the main attraction – like this Herby Spring Green Roulade,

herbycheeseroulade

For the roulade

  • vegetable oil, for greasing
  • 50g butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 75g vegetarian parmesan -style cheese, finely grated
  • 4 medium eggs, separated
  • 15g pack flatleaf parsley, chopped

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 225g spring greens, shredded
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Method

  1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Oil a 23 x 33cm Swiss roll tin. Cut a rectangle of baking parchment 4cm larger all round than the tin. Fold in a 2cm strip all round, making a diagonal cut into each corner.
  2. For the roulade, melt the butter in a large pan. Add the garlic and fry for 1 min. Add the flour and cook for 1 min, stirring constantly. Gradually beat in the milk. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese. Season, then allow to cool slightly. Beat in the egg yolks and parsley. Whisk the egg whites to stiff, but not dry peaks, then gently fold into the cheese sauce. Pour into the tin, tipping the tin so that the mixture fills all the corners. Bake for 15 mins until risen and golden.
  3. .Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large wok or frying pan and stir-fry the spring greens and garlic for 4-5 mins until tender. Season.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over a sheet of baking parchment just larger than the tin. Turn the roulade out onto the parchment, then peel off the lining paper. Trim the crispy edges off the roulade. Use a slotted spoon to remove the spring greens from the garlicky butter, then spread over the roulade leaving a 2.5cm space at one short end uncovered. Roll up the roulade from the short end with no filling on it, using the paper to help. Serve the roulade immediately, drizzled with any remaining garlicky butter.

From BBC Good Food

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Spring Greens – What are they EXACTLY?

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