There is a reason rabbits are equated with Easter: Spring is the time of year they ruin gardeners’ crops, especially greens. March and April particularly make up the high season for a number of leafy greens, including Swiss chard, spinach and varieties of lettuce.
This hearty, broad-leafed plant has long been considered one of the healthiest vegetables on the market. Slightly bitter, the thicker leaves are high in vitamins A, K and C as well as a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, manganese and iron.
Swiss chard can be served raw in salad—rinse with cold water and do not soak, as this will reduce the number of nutrients. Boiling will bring out the sweeter notes in the leaf, making it a great addition to toss in fresh pasta, EVOO, lemon juice and roughly chopped garlic.
The root behind many child-parent dinner table standoffs, spinach is a downright superstar of the healthy diet sect and a springtime champion grower. The vegetable Popeye made famous is loaded with vitamins (A, K and C), protein, folate and folic acid as well as minerals: magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium and manganese. (No wonder it made Popeye so strong.)
Spinach lends itself to a number of preparation techniques to be used as an ingredient, a flavor-enhancer, a side, sautéed in butter with a pinch of garlic and salt or simply raw in a salad tossed with tomatoes and feta.
For the herbivore, life simply wouldn’t be as tasty without lettuce. The leafy greens that make the foundation for salads has so much more to offer than iceberg and romaine. Names like Red Cross, Black Seeded Simpson, Cherokee, Firecracker, Flashy Trout Black, Two Star and Magenta may not stand out in the Publix produce section, but at specialty markets and with artisanal growers, these are just but a few of the varieties harvested around Palm Beach County. Like all leafy greens, lettuces can be a rich source of vitamins A, K, C and B as well as minerals, but they are also great sources of zeaxanthin, a carotene important for eye health.
Coming in a variety of colors, shapes, tastes and smells, many local growers produce butterhead, romaine, leaf, bibb and summer crisp varieties, both as mature and micro selections.
Where to Buy
For the best in leafy greens, local organic grower Inyoni Farms is Southwest Florida’s go to producer. From kale, mustard greens and Swiss chard to micro greens and spinach—their new Asian variety is supposed to be tops—as well as milieu of other vegetables—word on the street is that eggplant is fresh off the vine—the six-acre farm is constantly producing interesting and healthy fruit and vegetable options.
- For those looking for some fresh, locally grown organic leafy greens, Inyoni Farms can be found at the North Naples Green Market on Saturdays through May/June. IBERIABANK Centre, 1465 Golden Gate Parkway.