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A Pollination Moment
from Pollinator Paradise Farmer's Market E-mail reminders

Adventuresome Summer Greens 
For Salad or Cooking

     We are now offering a new salad mix for the summer.  There is no lettuce or spinach in this salad mix.  Lettuce and spinach are the staples of the spring and fall salad, but they can't tolerate the heat.

    The summer salad mix contains a number of greens that you have probably never heard of.  Neither had I until I perused the seed catalogues this past spring looking for greens that could tolerate heat.  Johnny's Selected Seeds is the source for most of these greens.  Among them are several Asian greens:  yukina, komatsuna, vitamin green, and tah tsai.  All of these have a mild mustard-spinach flavor and tender leaves.    I've been including tah tsai in traditional salad mix from time to time.  It has dark green spoon shaped leaves with a short edible stem.  It tastes a bit like pak choi.  Yukina is a type of tah tsai that has larger, savoyed leaves.  Right now they are still too small to notice that the leaves are savoyed, but soon they should be large enough to tell.

    Johnny's describes Komatsuna as "Japanese greens for salad and braising mixes".  Vitamin Green has a scary name.  "Eat your vitamin green," I can hear mothers telling their kids.  Johnny's describes Vitamin green as "Appetizing, nutritious … an entirely different and delicious leafy green vegetable… Not at all mustardy"  The plants are supposed to tolerate both heat and cold.

    All of the Asian Greens are in the mustard family, and they make the bulk of the mix, at least right now.  Also in the mix is "Vegetable Amaranth", also known as Calaloo.  It is supposed to be popular in southern Asia, African, and the West Indies, and has a "unique" taste.  Amaranth looks a bit like coleus, but they are not related.  Amaranth, oddly enough, is in the Amaranth family.  Its relatives include the flowers Celosia and Gomphrena.  Just for reference, Coleus is in the mint family, but I've never heard of anyone eating it.

    I'm including some basil in the salad mix.  There are three kinds: lemon basil, purple basil and lettuce-leafed basil.  They should give the mix a bright flavor. 

   There are also a few leaves of Shungiku chrysanthemum, from Seeds of Change in Santa Fe.  Shungiku leaves have a flavor reminiscent of celery.  There should be more in the future as the plants mature.  Finally, I'm trying to grow New Zealand Spinach.  It is supposed to taste like spinach, but is tolerant of heat.  So far the few plants that have come up are still too small to taste.

   This mix is colorful, more flavorful than traditional salad mix, and very healthy.  Though some of the flavors may not appeal by themselves, they are often quite nice mixed with other flavors and with a little salad dressing on top.  Not everyone will like this mix, but if you are adventuresome, give it a try.   If you don't like the mix raw, try cooking: these greens would be good in stir fry or stews, or steamed over pasta.   I have samples of a few of the leaves in the salad mix for you to taste. 

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July 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003, Karen Strickler. All rights reserved.