Last month, my family attended the annual Beit Midrash retreat at the Pearlstone Center, which focused on ecology, agriculture and the days of creation. The annual event is always packed with great classes and opportunities to socialize with Jewish farmers, educators, activists and rabbis from every denomination. I wrote about last year’s retreat for The Jewish Daily Forward.
In one of our sessions this year, we read a teaching by Rashi where he described a moment during creation when “they [the plants] had not yet emerged, but they stood at the entrance of the ground.” In Rashi’s explanation, the plants could not emerge until humans were created to pray for rain.
As a farmer, I could immediately relate to the image of seeds that seem to pause just below the surface, and I love the idea of “the entrance of the ground.” My husband and I have taken many nervous walks through the farm waiting for peas or cover crops to sprout, pushing soil away to look for seedlings still under the surface.
This year in particular, with the extra-cold spring, seeds in our greenhouse have been slow to germinate. We are watching as our seedlings push against the top of the soil and finally emerge looking fragile with bent heads and seeds still attached.
This spring seems to be happening in slow motion, and one benefit of that is that there is time for a sense of gratitude when the seeds finally start to grow. With the cold winds blowing and still a chance for a late April frost, we are not taking anything for granted this year.
Recently my husband brought the season’s first greens from the farm into the kitchen. He needed to thin out some of the trays in the greenhouse. He gathered a colorful bowl full of tiny beet, chard and lettuce leaves. At this age, greens are between sprouts and baby salad greens and are sometimes called microgreens. Chefs often use them as colorful garnishes on meat and fish dishes.
I put together a very simple salad using only the greens garnished with clementine wedges. These greens are so tasty, they do not need a salad dressing at all. If you do use a dressing, keep it simple with a little lemon and olive oil so you can taste the greens.
During Passover, we need green vegetables, or karpas, for our Seders and throughout the holiday week to keep us healthy and strong. If you hit the farmers market this week, you just might be able to pick up some microgreens. If not, substitute baby lettuce or greens of any kind.