DETROIT — Spring greens are popping up at grocery stores and farmers markets.
Spring greens’ superior quality and sometimes lower prices have folks snapping up those green pea shoots, soft green baby lettuces, peppery arugula and those broad green leaves of chard with stems that pop with color. And don’t forget asparagus, which might not be locally grown but adds a bright accent to any dish.
Although it’s very early in the growing season, hoop house and greenhouse growers make it possible to enjoy local spring greens now.
Karlene Goetz, 59, owner of Goetz Farms in Riga, Mich., says they have greenhouse-grown chard, arugula and a spicy mix of greens (mustard, mizuna and lettuce).
“With chard they have more vitamins, and you can use the stems,” she says.
Says Kellie Carbone of Ann Arbor, “My cravings change in the spring,” adding that she tends to eat lighter, greener foods.
Her favorite? Sunflower shoots, which she describes as having a lemony taste.
“These [sunflower shoots] are like a shot of adrenaline,” she says. “I eat them in salads and as a snack.”
Kate Woods of Ann Arbor agrees and says, “Everything is better with greens.”
Woods uses the sunflower and pea shoots in salads and stir fries and as a garnish for soup.
“The sunflower shoot is the most sturdy and has a lemony flavor with remnants of sunflower seeds and an edge of nuttiness,” she says.
Woods picked up a bag of pea shoots from Garden Works organic farm in Ann Arbor. A market darling, pea shoots are rich in vitamins A and C and can be eaten raw, cooked in stir fries and sauteed. They dress up any dish as a garnish.
“They’re very tender, and have the same flavor as a pea pod,” says Robert MacKercher, 46, who owns Garden Works. “They’re very good sauteed with olive oil and garlic.”
But the appeal of spring produce goes beyond the taste. As farmers markets gear up for the summer season, sales of spring greens are a healthy pick-me-up for those who eat them and those who sell them.
Says MacKercher: “It’s a nice spring boost for everybody.”
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