I was having dinner with a neighbour the other day and she asked me if I needed any dried
greens. She was referring to turnip tops and kale. She had just come across a large, forgotten jar and with the onset of spring it was high time to use them up.
I declined, because her comment only served to remind me of my also large, also forgotten jar of mixed greens collecting dust in the shed — and the smaller bag of dried chickweed in the pantry.
When I got home it was the latter I sought out first, deciding to see how many ways I could use it. My standard operation is to put it in soups and stews — a couple handfuls added with just enough cooking time left to soften it up.
Why stop there? In the summer, I throw greens in smoothies all the time, so why not dried greens?
Well, firstly because the stems can get quite tough. So I soak them first, or if I’m feeling mechanical, I pulverize. Powdered springtime; once I had that idea, the powder went into everything. I tried adding a generous portion to oatcakes along with the last of my dried tomatoes: very nice. A garlicky salad dressing made thick with greens reminded me of Green Goddess bowls from vegan strongholds down south.
The pesto didn’t quite end up like pesto from fresh produce, but it was still reasonable. It mostly tastes like lemon and garlic anyways. Which reminds me, I must try begonias in pesto this summer, the blossoms are delightfully lemony — a little astringent if you overdo it.
But I digress, back to the greens. I also wondered how they would do as a travel food, or additive — travelling always gets me out of my comfortfood zone and I thought perhaps if I brought along a bag of concentrated greens I could make anything taste a little like my garden. Then I looked at what I was proposing to stick in my carry-on.
Hmm — plastic baggies filled with crumbly, dry green stuff. Anyone with half a nose can tell it’s not that kind of weed, but I decided it would be better not to draw attention to myself. Instead, maybe I could put it in capsules and market it with a French name to make it sound classy.
Or maybe I’ll just make another pot of soup.