Dandelion, purslane, and watercress are examples of summer greens. The types of leafy green vegetables that are in season in the summer. It’s good to get to know these greens because as the weather heats up some of our favorite greens (even when available) aren’t always at their best.
Kale a terrific cool season green that is quickly becoming a staple these days. But the truth is kale (and other Brassica) take on an unpleasant bitterness when grown in too much heat. Other cool season greens, such as arugula, tend to bolt when presented with long hot days– sending out flowers and producing seeds too quickly.
You could accept these limitations. Hydroponics have made many of our favorites (though a bit pricy) available year-round. Or you could embrace the greens that naturally thrive this time of year. Dandelion, purslane, and watercress are three of my favorite summer greens. Lamb’s quarters, Malabar spinach, taro, and the leaves of sweet potato plants are also summer greens that are as worthy of the plate as cool season favorites like kale.
Another problem with summer greens (or really any leafy vegetable trying to survive the heat) is how quickly they go limp. Just the hike up the hill from the Hollywood Farmers Market is sometimes enough to cause even the hardiest of summer greens like dandelion, to cower from the sunshine.
There’s a simple, though occasionally disappointing solution. Sometimes I sauté the greens that have prematurely bowed their little heads. But that won’t work in today’s Summer Greens and Nectarines Salad. This salad is served cool and crisp, and that’s best achieved with a simple bowl of ice water.
Ice water is how good restaurants are able to consistently serve serve crisp salads in any kind of weather. Any vegetable you want to serve crisp and raw will benefit from a cool bath in an icy pond. Especially summer greens. Try it. GREG