Collards, the earliest greens of spring
Two weeks after shoveling the dregs of snow from the pathways of the garden, I cleaned the beds I meant to clean before the snow fell last year and then took stock.
The creeping thyme survived, as did major stems of sage. The sorrel is returning, as are the ever/never bearing strawberries (depending on your point of view). A few straggly leaves of arugula that looked promising on snow-shoveling day seemed to have succumbed since.
But the best two surprises were chioggia beets that had overwintered and developed a candy-like sweetness after a turn in the oven and enough collard greens to serve four, scavenged from knobby survivors of what seemed at the time to have been endless snows.
I snipped them away from the stems, clipped the brown edges, then rinsed them and cut them into ribbons. After a quick blanch in boiling water salted to match the sea, I drained them, then sautéed them with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt - and about a half-teaspoon of sugar. A squeeze of lemon finished the dish.
There were no leftovers, and the success was motivation enough to plant arugula, spinach and an heirloom called Ragged Jack kale, all from the Hudson Valley Seed Library, which had a booth at the winter conference of NOFA-NJ in Princeton, NJ.
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