Every year, I like to try to grow something I’ve never grown before. Even better if I haven’t tasted it or even seen it at a farmer’s market. This year, when searching the seed catalogs, I came across a ton of new things to grow – some familiar, and others completely unimagined. Below is the greens half of my list, which doesn’t even include new varieties of things I’ve grown before. Tomorrow, I’ll post the other fruits and veggies I’m trying.

Red Orach – It’s related to spinach, but grows up to four feet tall. The flower stalks can be cooked like asparagus or broccol. The purplish-red leaves will make a nice addition to salads.

Salad Burnet – At $1.25 for a pack of seeds, how can you pass it up? The leaves are almost fern-like, and have a subtle cucumber flavor. Should be another nice, whole season addition to the salad bowl.

Shiso – I’ve eaten exactly one shiso leaf before – wrapped around sashimi. The flavor was so memorable, I had to try to grow it. I remember the taste as sort of a savory mint. It will be a nice addition to both salads and Asian dishes like pho or bahn mi sandwiches. The variety I’m growing, Britton, has green leaves with red undersides.

Amaranth  and Garland Chrysanthemum– These ones were impulse buys. I saw a seed display at the Asian grocery store over the weekend, and at $1.29 a pack, why not? They’re both intended for use as salad greens, and the amaranth in particular is a really beautiful plant – red and green variegated. I know amaranth can get reall tall, but going by the photo on the seed packet, this is a trailing variety. But most of the package is in Chinese…

Fenugreek – I really enjoy multi-purpose plants. Fenugreek is a legume that has edible young leaves and seeds that can be used as a spice (especially in curries) or sprouted. I picked some leaves up from the Indian grocery store, and they have a really interesting flavor. I’m not sure I’d want a whole salad of fenugreek leaves, but they’d make a nice addition with a more bitter green.