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Monday
Jan182016

5 Spicy Greens that'll keep it Interesting

Let’s face it – you’re a fine cook, but no one would accuse your salads of having too much flavor. In fact, they’re about as daring as a trip to the library. Bored croutons tumble over predictable blends of romaine and iceberg , placing the  burden of excitement on a slice or two of red onion.  But it’s a new year, and one of your resolutions was to take it up a notch, and spice things up a little. You already got the nose ring. Now it’s time to add a little kick to those salads with these naturally spicy greens that are easy to grow, and never boring.

Arugula
Take one bite, and it’s easy to see why the British call this spicy powerhouse ‘Rocket’. The smoky, spicy flavor adds unmistakable depth and flavor to salads, and has become a staple green that can really send a salad into orbit. In the garden, it’s more tenacious than a Mexican drug cartel, and doesn’t need much more than a sunny location and moderately rich soil to thrive.

 

Cress
Like things fast? You’ll love growing cress. It won’t get you to work in 6 minutes like that Ducati, but in as little as a few weeks, it’s ready to add zing to salads, soups and even smoothies. Packed with vitamins, it sprouts quickly, and is easy to grow - even indoors on a window sill.

 

 

 

Mustard Greens
The spicy kick of mustard varieties ranges from the ‘call the fire department’ burn of the old time favorite ’ Giant Southern Curled’ cultivar to the more subtle ‘Ruby Streaks’. Just a few leaves will turn a ho-hum salad into a conversation piece, or try preparing mustard greens as an unforgettable side dish. Like other greens, mustard greens thrive in cool weather, and the outer leaves can be continuously harvested.

 

 

Mizuna & Mibuna
Disturbing game shows. Pac Man. Mizuna and Mibuna. Japan has given the world so much, and these two spicy Japanese cousins have been used for centuries to add visual interest and a spicy cabbage flavor to salads. Mizuna has spiky, serrated leaves while Mibuna’s foliage is longer and more rounded. Both are cold hardy and easy to grow in spring and fall, but beware nighttime raids from snails who will zero in on these plants like a sake fueled kamikaze.

 

 

Nasturtium
Almost as versatile as a Swiss army knife, but much more tasty, the nasturtium is easy to grow and adds a fun pop of color to any organic garden.  The leaves add a peppery flavor to salads and sandwiches, and the flowers make a memorable garnish. The tiny fruits can even be pickled and used like capers in salads, and as if that wasn’t enough, nasturtiums pull double duty as a companion plant that helps deter squash bugs, whitefly, and cabbage worms. Talk about talent!

 

 

Tatsoi
After a few harsh cold snaps, your garden looks emptier than the bread aisle on a snow day, and only the heartiest leafy greens like kale, collards, chard, and tatsoi remain. Yes, you heard right - tatsoi. While it doesn’t get headlines like kale or collards, tatsoi is also extremely cold hardy, and unlike kale, its thick dark green leaves add rich, spicy flavor to salads and can even be used as a substitute for spinach.

 

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