This morning, I put on my winter boots, walked out the back door into single-digit weather, and trudged through the snow to our neighbor’s hoophouse—essentially a low-cost greenhouse with a frame made of PVC piping. I ducked under the plastic covering outside, and entered a small, warm oasis of growth.
We have a good relationship with our neighbors (who are part of the Bloomington Housing Co-op ), and in the late fall my landlord helped them build their hoophouse and plant the first crop.
So far, despite the snow and ice, the plants are looking great! And in exchange for help with weeding and construction, I was invited to pick some of the delicious fresh salad greens.
A Colorful Combo
There’s a great combination of flavors and colors in the spicy salad mix, with deep purple mustardy leaves, spinach, arugula, and lots of other things I couldn’t identify—but happily munched on regardless. I might have enjoyed a few weeds alongside the real salad parts.
I don’t think you can get any more local than fresh salad greens from your backyard! The hoophouse was a great way to extend the growing season this winter, and I plan on making lots of salads as long as our plants survive. (And as long as my fingers don’t freeze off while picking them!)
Creamy Tahini Dressing With Spicy Salad Greens
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Mince garlic. Combine all ingredients, beating with a whisk (or fork) until blended.
- Toss dressing into salad with two large spoons until leaves are lightly covered. Serve immediately.
The creamy flavor took some of the bite away from the spicier mustard greens, but the leaves were so delicious I could have eaten them plain.
I’ve been inspired by what my neighbors did with their hoophouse garden, and I’m planning on starting my own garden when spring comes around. Until then, I’ll be making hoophouse salads as long as I can, and visiting the Winter Farmers Market for the rest of our fresh local veggies.