This spring we’re growing some new-to-us greens from the Asian Greens section of the seed catalog—Tat Soi, White-Stemmed Pac Choy, and Vitamin Green—along with a new-to-us mustard green, Garnet Giant Mustard. Full-size, these greens are most often used in cooking, but now in early spring, in their tender baby size, the Asian Greens are perfect raw and fresh.
I’ll admit these Asian and mustard greens take some getting used to. I’ll also admit I haven’t had a great deal of success in getting my boys—ages 4 and 6—to fully embrace these flavorful greens, at least at the dinner table. But the other day, I was working in the hoop house while discussing Bakugans with my 4-year-old Asher, and I nonchalantly offered him a few Vitamin Green leaves, which he popped in his mouth and ate without comment. Okay, okay, he was distracted—I mean, we were talking about Bakugans!—but still he ate some and that’s a start.
Our hope is that you too will give these a try. So at this point in the season, instead of selling varieties individually, we’ve decided to toss them together into in Asian Greens Salad Mix and offer you what is essentially a nutrient powerhouse. When eating all four of these greens together, you’ll get a great source of calcium, beta carotenes, vitamins A, C, and K, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Deborah Madison, cook and author of Vegetable Literacy, says of mustard greens’ health benefits—and this holds true for the Asian greens too—“These plants are such dynamos that we would do well to find ways to enjoy them.”
One way I’ve enjoyed these greens this past week is in a chopped salad with a gingery, garlicky dressing.
For this recipe, you’re going to start the night before by making the dressing, which doubles as a chicken marinade. Mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced fresh ginger, minced garlic, peanut oil, and olive oil, and shake vigorously in your jar (or, if you’ve had a Grolsch since my first post this spring, use the bottle!).
Thinly slice ½ pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer white meat) into 1-inch pieces. For local folks looking for semi-locally raised chicken, try Miller Amish Poultry from Tysens Grocery in DeMotte. Place the chicken in a bowl, pour about half the dressing over it, and marinate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
Fast forward to salad time. First step, heat up that trusty skillet because it’s time to sauté the marinated chicken, cooking about 4 minutes on each side. When it’s finished cooking, set the chicken aside to cool.
Meanwhile, gather up the rest of your ingredients in a large bowl, starting with about 8 cups of the Asian Green Salad Mix, then adding a half cup of each of these:
- fresh pineapple chunks
- fresh Clementine wedges
- sliced radishes
- sliced green onions
- chicken strips
Toss all this goodness together, then dump everything out on your cutting board and—hence the salad’s name—get chopping! I like this chopping advice from First We Feast:
Arrange your greens in a rough rectangle, then use your largest, sharpest knife to cut all the way down to the board. Lift the knife, and cut again in a parallel line about an inch from the first. Repeat until you reach the end of the rectangle. Rotate the board 90 degrees, then do again. That might be enough chopping, but if you want a finer mince, toss the ingredients to redistribute, then chop in a grid once more.
Once you have the consistency you’re looking for, return everything to your large bowl and add a couple tablespoons of that dressing you made the night before. Gently toss the salad, then place the whole mix in a serving dish. At this point, you can leave the salad as is, or decorate by lining up about ½ cup of each ingredient on top of the salad.
One last note about this salad. I’m a big fan of using local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Obviously, pineapple and clementines don’t really fit the bill here, but considering the only “fruit” I have growing in my garden right now is rhubarb, I decided to branch out. If that’s not your style, you’re welcome to try the rhubarb—just make sure to tell me how it tasted!
Photography and Food Styling: Anne Kingma