When I was little, my parents took me to see Camelot — they probably couldn’t get a babysitter. I kept falling asleep. But I woke up to Queen Guinevere singing, “The Lusty Month of May.” I didn’t know what lusty meant, but I got the gist and I wanted in. Guinevere was right. In May, the sap rises in all of us, new buds appear and the world shows itself bright and green and rosy and young and hopeful.
So embrace spring. Better yet, eat it. Eating in season guarantees you’re getting the foods of the earth at their ripest, most flavorful and nutrient- packed peak. Shake off the winter doldrums and welcome the glorious green leaves of spring —tender, sweet spinach; bold, earthy kale; frilly, peppery arugula; bright-stemmed chard; spiky, astringent dandelion greens. From cool jade to deep jungly green, they’re more vibrant in color, flavor and nutrients than that pale bowling ball of supermarket iceberg lettuce.
Greens suffer the stigma of being healthy — as if that’s a bad thing. If you knew there was a pill that was anti-inflammatory and immunity enhancing, rich in vitamins C and A, iron, calcium, folate and a wealth of antioxidants, you’d pop it at once. Spring greens offer all that plus all kinds of phytochemical majesty and mystery. They also contain fiber, as much, if not more, than the packaged, processed foods that boast of their fiber content. What’s more, the leaves of spring are easy to digest and don’t leave you feeling like the fiber bar you ate last week is still hanging around in your stomach today.
Plus, there’s lust. Arugula has been touted to up your game in the bedroom for centuries. Really. Pliny the Elder was raving about it back in first century Rome. The greens of spring act as a tonic. They’re naturally cleansing without being, you know, MasterCleanse. They stimulate all our good juices.
Speaking of juice, while green juice seems like a painless vegetable delivery system, studies show juicing removes the fabulous fiber from produce and doesn’t engage our digestion the way chewing and swallowing do. Your body doesn’t burn as hot. And hot, after all, is what we’re after.
This vibrant green spread is the answer. It keeps all the fiber and nutrients of spring greens intact, is a chic emerald green, is lusty, gutsy and a cinch to make. It’s your golden — and green — opportunity to get your spring on. It’ll leave you humming in good ways, maybe even humming “The Lusty Month of May” with a knowing smile on your face.
Lusty Green Spread
Just because you puree it doesn’t make it hummus or pesto. So what to call this emerald-green wonder? It’s a fabulous dredge for vegetables, a slather on whole wheat crostini (and pretty great spooned up right from the bowl). Calling it a spread sounds slightly naughty. But nice.
Customize and fancy it up by adding 2 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, mint or parsley. It’s the spread with a thousand possibilities, all of them green.
- 1 bunch kale, chard or dandelion greens
- 2 cup cooked white beans such as cannellini or navy beans (or 1 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
- 1 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Blanch* greens, rinse in cold water and drain. Blot dry.
- Whizz the blanched kale in a food processor for a minute or until processed into small bits.
- Greens will be very thick.
- Add the white beans, garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil. Whizz again until uniform and winningly green. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Should spread be thicker than you prefer, thin with a little more olive oil, water, vegetable broth or white wine.
- Keeps covered and refrigerated for up to a week