Among more exotic varieties of greens, mustard spinach, water spinach (with slender, pointed leaves), and chrysanthemum greens (all Asian, the latter an edible kin to the familiar floral type) are tender enough to mix raw in salads or use as last-minute additions to stir-fries or soups.
Mizuna (Japanese mustard greens) have sawtooth leaves and a mustard tang used to accent mesclun mix or soup.
Tatsoi (Chinese flat cabbage or spinach mustard) is kin to bok choy, with spoon-shaped leaves and a spinachlike flavor. It withstands freezing temperatures, and can be harvested even under snow.
On the menu for spring are fresh local harvests of sorrel, beet and dandelion greens.
Sorrel is a large-leafed, veggielike herb with a lemony bite. (Trim and discard the stems, which get stringy and tough when cooked.) Beet greens have a spinachlike flavor with the cooking traits of chard. (Trim and discard the ribs before cooking.) Young dandelion greens have a subtle bite that contrasts with sweet dressing in salads.
- Marilynn Marter