We have been waiting long enough and finally it is time for the spring greens! If there was a time to get your fresh greens on, it is now. Ready for the picking is arugula, spinach, chard, collard greens, kale, radicchio and lettuce greens. Mixing up your greens can give you plenty of variety and an abundance of nutrients to feed your body. Starting lunch and/or dinner out with salad greens with oil/vinegar can jump start your digestion. Most dark leafy greens and lettuce are bitter, which increases stomach acid juices. Having sufficient stomach acid is the most powerful tool to combating indigestion.
In addition to healthy bitter greens to jumpstarting digestion, adding fresh herbs will supercharge this effect. In season for early May you will find mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and sage. These herbs are delicious in salad dressings. Try making a batch at home with the fresh herbs you find at the farmer’s market this weekend! Not only are these herbs delicious, they also have strong medicinal properties. Below is a list of health benefits that these herbs provide:
Peppermint: is helpful to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, vomiting and general indigestion. The oil can also be rubbed topically to reduce symptoms of headache, or itchy skin such as a mosquito bite. Hot tea can be inhaled to alleviate nasal congestion.
Oregano: this herb has many incredible uses. Most well-known is boosting the immune system to fight the common cold, bronchitis or asthma. The oil can be rubbed topically for muscular or arthritic pain.
Parsley: is used as a diuretic, which helps with urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and hypertension. It can be used topically to help with dry chapped skin, bruises, insect bites and even stimulate hair growth!
Rosemary: is incredible in its ability to increase blood flow to the brain, enhance memory, and relax the nervous system. It can be used topically for pain relief due to rheumatoid arthritis by increasing blood flow and circulation.
Sage: plays a great role in balancing hormones, especially in perimenopause women! It will reduce hot flashes and night sweats. It can be used topically to help protect and sooth the mucus membranes such as in a sore throat or canker sores.
Soft Herb Salad
By Julia Moskin
Yield: 6 to 8 servings (can be doubled) Time: 1 hour
Greens (lightly packed measurement):
2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup small dill sprigs
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup arugula leaves
2 cups butter lettuce leaves
4 tablespoons organic butter
1 cup sliced almonds
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon red chile flakes
3 tablespoons lemon juice, more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, more to taste
Up to a day before serving, wash the herbs and greens: Fill a large bowl or clean sink with plenty of cold water. Immerse the leaves, swish around to loosen any dirt, then gently lift out. Dry in a salad spinner or by spreading them on clean kitchen towels. (If working ahead, refrigerate the dry leaves in sealed plastic bags or containers. Add a paper towel to each bag to absorb excess water.)
Melt butter in a frying pan until it sizzles. Add almonds. Sauté over low heat, until the almonds are golden and the butter is browned. Lift out almonds and drain on paper towels, reserving butter. (Butter can be kept for 1 day. Melt and cool again before assembling salad.)
When ready to serve, place greens in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, chile flakes, almonds, cooking butter, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently and season to taste, then serve immediately.
Adapted from “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook”