A variety of greens are one of the first crops at the market: Lettuces, spinach, arugula and watercress. These tender greens tend to be delicate and supple in texture and provide variety, flavour and texture to salads.

More mature greens, dandelion, mustard, chard, kale and the like, will come along in a few weeks and they generally need cooking. Mature greens tend to have large, tough leaves. If you break off a piece and chew it, it will be leathery. Some mature greens, such as dandelion and mustard, will be unpleasantly bitter even if they are not especially tough. Mature greens should be blanched by steaming or boiling briefly in water before cooking them.

Simple Spring Salad with Maple Glazed Nuts

Look for locally grown arugula and watercress for a peppery punch. The sweetness of the maple-glazed pecans contrasts nicely with the bitterness of some greens and the sharpness of Asiago cheese. Asiago is a good grating cheese, so buy a piece and use a cheese shaver for attractive pieces. Makes four servings.

• 6 cups (1.5 L) mixed lettuce greens
• 3/4 cup (175 ml) pecan halves
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup

• 1 tbsp (15 ml) red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
• Pinch pepper
• 1 oz (30 g) Asiago cheese, shaved


Wash greens and spin dry. Wrap in clean tea towel in plastic bag, or store greens in salad spinner in refrigerator until needed.

Place pecans in large dry skillet over medium heat. Stir a few minutes until fragrant. Stir maple syrup into nuts and cook a few minutes or until well coated and syrup is absorbed into nuts. Transfer to parchment-lined plate to cool. Before serving, break any pecans apart that stick together.

For dressing, whisk together vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate until serving.

To serve, re-whisk and toss greens with dressing. Arrange on plates and top each salad with pecans and shaved cheese.

• Dark green cruciferous vegetables, such as arugula, kale, collards, kohlrabi, mustard greens and watercress are members of the Brassica family and are packed with folate, vitamins E and C and minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron.

– Barb Holland is a professional home economist and food writer who believes in shopping locally and in season.