15 Ways to Cook Whatever Hearty Green You've Got

March  2, 2017

Sometimes you get home from the market, unpack, and—oops—your table looks like this (grit and all):

Photo by Alpha Smoot

You're going to need more than one way to cook (and eat) those dandelion greens, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, and kale you just got—because there's only so much pesto you can make.

Arm yourself with these 15 ideas—you can cook any hearty winter green any of these ways. Who's a green machine now?

1. Cream them.

You know about creamed spinach—follow the same steps for kale, rabe, or any other sturdy green. Cook the greens down in olive oil, then simmer with cream and process if you'd like it smooth.

2. Dress them for salad.

Some greens, like beets greens or bok choy, should be cut into very thin ribbons so that they soften to a texture that's easy to bite. Others, like kale or dandelion greens, can be ripped into larger pieces (though feel free to shred them thinner if that's what you're feeling like).

3. Goma-ae them.

Goma-ae means "dressed in sesame sauce"—while you'll usually see the Japanese dish with spinach, other greens are easy to substitute in: Just blanch them, then coat them with the sesame sauce.

4. Blanch, then sauté with olive oil, garlic, and chile.

Once you have your greens sautéed, they're a great side, sure, but also can go on top of a rice bowl, in pasta, in a burrito, or mixed into eggs.

5. Cook with beans (greens' best friend).

6. Stick them in a frittata—or strata.

7. Ball them into meatless balls.

8. Smoothie them.

For very bitter greens, like dandelion, just put a little bit or your smoothie will taste quite puckery.

9. Alternatively, juice them.

Just like in smoothies, only add a handful of very bitter leaves.

10. Pesto!

11. Blend them into soup.

12. Add them to quiche.

13. Spanakopita them.

14. Pickle 'em for a rainy day.

Take the lead from pickled mustard greens, a common condiment, and pickle other greens for a topping on rice, eggs, noodles, and so on.

15. Add them to pasta or soup.

(That's what you were going to do, weren't you?)

Tell us: What's your go-to winter green?

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Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.