Winter Greens

On a snowy day in December, Joannee Debruhl and I walked around the winter wonderland that is Stone Coop Farm. Despite the six inches of snow on the ground, inside the four hoop houses, we encountered rows and rows of green.

Winter greens are a revelation. The same old kale, chard, mizuna, spinach, and arugala that you’ve been eating all summer meet with a few nights of double digits and all of a sudden….POOF!….you’re eating a whole new plant. You see, when it’s cold, these brassica and chenopodia family plants, convert their starches to sugars. The sugars act as a natural anti-freeze so that the plant can thaw and stay alive instead of thaw and wilt like a tomato plant does when it encounters its first frost.

It’s an amazing and freaking delicious chemical reaction.

You can grow winter greens at home in a cold frame or a mini hoop. For inspiration check out, Elliot Coleman’s Four Season Handbook.

Luckily for me, Stone Coop Farm is just down the road. Their chickens share my passion for winter greens.

chickens in snow

Here’s a recipe for dressing to augment your winter green salad (not that it really needs it!)

Wintry Balsamic Viniagrette

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (the nicer the vinegar, the nicer the dressing)

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or fresh if you’ve brought your rosemary plant indoors for the winter)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh if you dig under the snow and find that the thyme is still green)

1/2 teaspoon dried sage (your sage is probably not still green so dried is fine)

1 cup olive oil (the same goes for oil….the nicer the oil, the nicer the dressing)

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon zest of some nice citrus (lemon, orange, or grapefruit)

Mince garlic and add maple syrup, herbs, zest, and salt and pepper. Whisk in balsamic. Then slowly drizzle in olive oil whisking constantly to integrate the oil into the dressing. If you don’t get perfect union, no worries. Just shake or whisk it up before you lightly dress the salad.

 

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