Thank you to all those who came out to pick up a box of the most under-rated, eagerly anticipated firsts of the Ontario growing season. These spring veggies deserve a part in your diet because of their unique flavours and amazing health benefits. Most are available for only about 3 weeks depending on the weather, so get them while you can! We hope you enjoyed your Spring Veg Out box which included:
Green Garlic, Spring Garlic or Young Garlic
With as many immunity boosting benefits as fully grown garlic, these green slender shoots of garlic are simply the garlic greens and bulb before it matures and splits into cloves.
One of most popular health benefits of garlic is preventing cold and flu. Green garlic, when eaten fresh (it’s mild, so you can!) contains Allicin, an exceptionally potent naturally occurring compound. Its effects are similar to antibiotics, when administered both internally and externally on open wounds.
The whole green garlic plant (bulb, stem and leaves) can be eaten. Use more of it than adult garlic and note the sweet, nutty flavour when cooked. Enjoy this highly aromatic herb as you would adult garlic, in dressings, stir fries, omelettes, stews, soups and more.
Store green garlic (ramps and spring onion) as you would herbs or salad greens, in a BPA free plastic or glass container wrapped in a paper towel or in a glass jar with a small amount of water in the bottom, and enjoy them even longer.
Warning – never eat Rhubarb greens as they are high in oxalic acid, which is toxic and can contribute to kidney stones if consumed in large amounts. Always trim off the leaves and enjoy all the health benefits of the stems only. Did you know that Rhubarb is a natural laxative and can be used to treat constipation without creating a “lazy bowel” – a common side effect of repeated use of store-bought laxatives. The fibers found in rhubarb have also been shown to reduce absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, even more so than other types of plants! Including it in meals can help lower their glycemic index and really boost your fibre intake! Try it in pies, crisps, mixed with other berries, make it into a compote for your yogurt and granola but also with your grilled chicken!
Rhubarb will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, but freezing is best for longer term storage. To freeze: cut rhubarb into 1-in. pieces and lay out on a baking sheet. Place sheet in freezer. Once frozen, store rhubarb in freezer bags, it’ll be easier to measure out what you need, because the rhubarb won’t be stuck together.
Note: when using frozen rhubarb for baking, thaw in a sieve over a bowl to discard excess liquid. Otherwise use it from frozen and simply reduce the amount of liquid listed in the directions.
Wild Leeks, Wood Leeks or Ramps
This fragile allium is slow to grow and must be harvested carefully – no more than 5-10% of a patch at a time to allow for regeneration. Wild Leeks are so delicious, incredibly versatile, pungent smelling yet sweet tasting plants which have a cult following, but please only buy them from reputable sources. Wild Leeks were once rampant in Quebec but their commercial harvest is now banned as of 1995 due to their sharp population decline thanks to over-harvesting 🙁
Try stuffing the iron rich leaves into a sandwich for a fresh, green, delicate onion-garlic flavour or substitute the whole heart healthy plant – bulbs and stems in any recipe that call for onion and garlic. Ramps are also rich in choline which supports brain function and learning. Their high folate, polyphenols and antioxidant content also fights high blood pressure! Sauté them up while you can, freeze or pickle them for a tasty treat to enjoy later in the season..
A staple in most kitchens for tuna and egg salads, stir fries and salad or dips.
These baby onions can be stored for weeks by reducing the amount of moisture on their leaves and by keeping the bottom of the white bulb in-tact for storage. Wash only before you use them, if greens are wet, pat dry and trim to fit a BPA free plastic or glass container. Store both leaves and bulbs in a tightly sealed container lined with paper towel. You could also keep the roots only submersed in water, either way they last for weeks!
This spring was tough on one of our favorite vegetables. The dry and warm weather caused many asparagus plants to bolt – grow too rapidly and flower, making them too tough to enjoy L We plan to plant more this year. When you do get some, try cooking them on low heat on the BBQ coated in an oil and balsamic vinaigrette, toss them into a salad, pair with any protein or enjoy all on their own with your favorite dip.