Early spring is a time of new beginnings on local farms with plantings going into the ground and, at some farms, a limited selection of fresh greens are for sale.
As we head into April and the final winter markets of the season, farmers markets and farm stores are offering a mix of stored produce and fresh greens, likely grown in greenhouses or high tunnels. Microgreens, arugula and kale all are being harvested even though April has not yet arrived.
Blue Moon Acres in Buckingham, Chickadee Creek Farm in Hopewell Township, N.J., and the Wrightstown Farmers Market in Wrightstown all are places where you can find local greens. Tanner Brothers in Richboro is known for its artisanal lettuces and Terhune Orchards outside Princeton, N.J., also has a selection of greenhouse lettuces this time of year.
In the days before we had local greenhouses and importers provided year-round availability, those in search of fresh greens in March and early April had to look for wild stinging nettles. Rich in vitamins A, C, K and several Bs, they also have plenty of calcium, potassium and magnesium and are considered a superfood. Just beware of their sting if you find some to harvest.
Currently available at local farms and markets are apples from storage, microgreens, wintered-over spinach, boc choy, carrots, cabbage, spring rabe, arugula, kale and watermelon radishes. Availability varies from farm to farm.
At Chickadee Creek, farmer Jess Niederer uses this recipe for Peanut Sauce Noodles as her go-to favorite, varying the greens according to availability. This is the combination she has been using recently based on the greens and carrots available at the farm. To make this as a vegan dish omit the protein or use tofu instead.
1 pound whole wheat linguini noodles
2 to 3 cups grated carrots
One large head boc choy
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons sesame oil
sauteed meat or chopped fried eggs (4 eggs suggested)
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
• Whisk together the sauce ingredients. It will seem a little thick.
• Cook the noodles according to package directions.
• While noodles are cooking, chop veggies and cook the meat or eggs.
• Drain noodles, then place back in pot and stir with 2 tablespoons sesame oil.
• Add in all the veggies and meat and stir to distribute evenly.
• Pour sauce over top using tongs or salad fork to combine.
• Garnish with lime and peanuts before serving.