Earth Day and Passover | News, Sports, Jobs

Greens, Beans and Pasta
(Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

It’s April 22. We’re one month into spring. The snow is gone. Ice is off the lakes. April showers water the soil, bringing new life. On sunny days, crocuses open in our garden and lawn to greet its warming rays.

April 22 is Earth Day, set aside to honor the earth’s bounty, encourage environmental awareness and sustain our limited natural resources. It’s a day to clean up our air and water. It’s a day to focus on clean, local, natural food — in contrast to factory-made food that fills most of our supermarket shelves today.

Before the 1940s, food was grown and purchased locally. There was the greengrocer, the butcher, the pharmacy, the soda shop/candy store, the bakery and the deli. Village stores were owned by someone in the community. What a contrast today: We buy most of our food from large, corporate box store chains.

To honor the Earth, buy locally grown food — or better yet, grow your own, and compost food scraps back into the garden. Reduce food waste and compost vegetable scraps. Buying local reduces greenhouse gases by reducing how far the food travels to reach your table. Reduce meat consumption; modern animal husbandry is a major contributor to greenhouse gasses.

April 22 is also the first night of Passover — a holiday of freedom from oppression. Celebrate with the Seder meal that reminds us of the long, difficult journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Israel.

“The temptation is powerful to close our eyes and wait for the worst to pass, but history tells us that for freedom to survive, it must be defended and that if lies are to stop, they must be exposed.” (Madeleine Albright.)

During the Seder, a book, the Haggadah, is read. There are special songs, lots of food and four glasses of wine. Six symbolic foods make up the seder plate: Matzah, a shank bone, an egg, bitter herbs, charoset and karpas — a green vegetable.

Matzah symbolizes the food God miraculously provided during the long journey. The lamb was the sacrifice on the eve of the exodus from Egypt. Maror are bitter herbs that remind us of the hardship and slavery of Egypt. Haroset is a sweet mix of fruit (usually apples), nuts and wine made to look like the mortar and bricks made by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. The bitter herbs are dipped into the sweet mixture and eaten together. The egg is a symbol of God’s redemption.

The karpas (Hebrew for green or vegetable) is dipped into salt water, to remind us of the tears shed while fleeing Egypt. Usually parsley, celery, lettuce or spinach, it denotes the fruit of the earth, symbolizing hope and renewal.

Passover celebrates freedom. Earth Day celebrates our planet. Whatever your heritage, enjoy the freedom to rejoice and work to make our world better for all.

“We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who creates the fruits of the earth” is the blessing over the fresh greens. I think it is an appropriate blessing for Earth Day as well.

Variable Greens and Beans

You can’t get more climate-friendly than this pairing.


1 Tablespoon cooking oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 large bunch chard, spinach or other greens

1/2 cup broth or water

1 15 oz. can beans (such as garbanzo or cannelini)

1-2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Shredded cheese, for garnish (optional)


Heat oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and pepper flakes.

Separate chard stems from leaves. Wash and slice the stems. Add to the skillet.

Stack leaves and slice crosswise into 1-inch strips. Add to the skillet, along with a little broth or water. Cover, and cook for a few minutes. Remove the lid, and add 1 can of beans, drained. Cook, stirring, to evaporate excess liquid and heat the beans through.

Taste and season with salt, pepper and a splash of Balsamic vinegar. Serve over cooked pasta and top with shredded sharp cheese, if you like.

Serve over pasta or a grain like quinoa, millet or rice.

Vary this by using other kinds of beans and/or greens — remember that tougher greens, like collards or kale, need to cook a bit longer, so add a little broth after sauteing them for 2-3 minutes, then cover and cook until tender.

Make this into a soup by adding a quart of broth (chicken or vegetarian) when adding the beans.

Add a Greek touch by garnishing with crumbled feta cheese and sliced olives towards the end. Add sliced tomatoes for extra color.

Add cooked, diced chicken for extra protein.

Main Dish Salad

Great for your Passover feast or for a light Earth Day supper.


1 1/2 cups cooked beans (black eyed peas, garbanzo or black beans)

2 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 small clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion (or 1 bunch scallions)

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

1 clove fresh garlic

1 small bunch strong-flavored greens (mustard greens, kale, etc.)

1 head leaf lettuce

1 bunch mache, cress, spinach, lettuce or other tender greens

1 carrot, grated


Cook bans until tender, or use 1 can of beans.

Prepare vinaigrette. In bottom of salad bowl, stir together olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Crush garlic with salt and blend in. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add a clove of minced garlic and a small bunch of sharp-flavored greens. Cook, stirring, about 10 minutes or until wilted.

Add lettuce, mache, sweet onion and shredded carrot to the dressing; toss to combine. Drain peas or beans, and add. Stir in chopped cooked greens.

Options: Garnish with cheese (feta, cheddar or parmesan) or a chopped hard-cooked egg.

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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: Writing and cooking. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on X: @yvonawrites.

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