Celebrate the New Year by eating more local food in 2015 with growing some winter greens. Arugula, kale and collards are easy to grow when it’s cold. These power greens will continue into spring fairly easily also. Having them readily available is a great way to add them to your weekly menu!
We often sow the seeds directly in the ground and try our luck growing which may not always work when the winter is very cold but you can protect your harvest with some of these easy steps :
1. Building a micro-climate- Make a small hoop house by using garden hoops or other type of support frame with either clothespins or earth staples and some garden fabric to provide shelter for plants. Several types of fabric are available for warm or cold seasons. Here is a little more about making a small hoop house:
2. Container Gardening-You can grow winter greens in large pots and on those very cold days, you can bring them in or make a protective cover similar to the micro-climate instructions . Here are a few good website on how to do a winter container garden.
3. Grow Varieties That Do Well In Winter- According to Mother Earth Living, some kale varieties that do well in the colder weather include Russian or Siberian. Mother Earth News recommends the Champion collard seeds or others from Virginia. Both of these are available from Sow True Seed.
Arugula varieties that do well are roquette and dragon’s tongue, these are available from Territorial Seed
Why Eat These 3 Greens
Arugula has a sweet, peppery flavor and contains vitamin A, B, C, K phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Kale has a mild cabbage flavor. Massaging it for a few minutes softens its texture for salads or smoothies. Kale is rich in vitamin A,C and K as well as the minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. It also contains anti-cancer properties and protects our eyesight.
Collards have a strong taste and are sturdy to hold together for many cooked variations or even added to a salad. These greens provide vitamin A, K and C as well as calcium and iron.
Here are some fresh and tasty ways to serve these winter greens.
Arugula Salad with Roasted Trout and New Potatoes
1 pound red new potatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound trout fillet
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic minced
10 ounces baby arugula
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a large cookie sheet, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes. Toss potatoes, and push to sides of sheet; place trout in center, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until potatoes are soft and trout is opaque throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes. Move trout to plate; chunk into large pieces with a fork. While potatoes and trout are cooking, whisk together lemon juice and ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and potatoes and toss to combine. Top salad with roasted trout.
Sausage, Kale, White Beans and Sweet Potatoes
Whether you use a locally made sausage from Hickory Nut Gap Farm or a new vegan version made from wheat from No Evil Foods, this recipe can be made almost entire from foods available in the winter from WNC sources.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sausage, Hickory Nut Gap or No Evil Foods
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large sweet potatoes, finely diced
1 large potato, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
4 cups cooked locally grown, North Carolina white beans
2 bunches kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
6 cups homemade vegetable broth, or store bought
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and brown, breaking into small crumbles. Add onion, sweet potato, potato, and thyme. Season generously with salt and cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and beans, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add kale, and cook until it wilts. Add vegetable broth, salt and pepper, and cover with lid. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until soup thickens.
Pasta with Collard Greens and Onions
One bunch collard greens, stemmed and washed.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, preferably a red onion, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced across the grain
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper
8 to 12 ounces pasta, any shape
1/2 cup cooking water from the pasta
1 to 2 ounces grated local blue cheese
2 tablespoons of pecans
Slice collard greens into thin strips. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large lidded frying pan and add the onion. Cook until it is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes stirring often. Add collard greens with salt and pepper until greens begin to soften and cook 5 more minutes. Add pinch of salt, red pepper flakes and garlic. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the greens are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Bring the water in the pot to a boil and add the pasta. Before draining the pasta, ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pot into the frying pan with the collard greens and onions. Drain the pasta and toss with the greens. Top each serving with blue cheese and pecans to taste.
Yield: 4 servings.
Here are some pictures from Linda Patterson’s garden! Linda is the owner of Mountain Rainwater Systems in Asheville, NC and has a passion for teaching people to grow their own food with raised beds, container gardens and rain barrel installation!
If you are looking for more recipes using winter greens, check out my new book Farm Fresh Nutrition: Eating Green and Clean. Supporting Your Local Economy! I have included lots of seasonal recipes using local ingredients!