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15 Ways to Cook Whatever Hearty Green You've Got

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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.

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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.

Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta
Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta

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).

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12 Kale Salads that Prove Kale is Here to Stay by Brette Warshaw

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Chicory & Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Chicory & Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette by Sara Jenkins

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.

Broccoli Rabe Goma-ae
Broccoli Rabe Goma-ae

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.

Suzanne Goin's Slow-Cooked Cavolo Nero (a.k.a. Tuscan Kale)

Suzanne Goin's Slow-Cooked Cavolo Nero (a.k.a. Tuscan Kale) by Genius Recipes

Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale

Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Burnt Green Onion Dip ... by Genius Recipes

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

Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale

Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale by Genius Recipes

A Small Way to Be Kind to Yourself: Make Beans & Greens for Dinner

A Small Way to Be Kind to Yourself: Make Beans & Greens f... by Sarah Jampel

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6. Stick them in a frittata—or strata.

Turnip Greens Frittata

Turnip Greens Frittata by Amanda Hesser

Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar, and Greens

Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar, and Greens by Alexandra Stafford

7. Ball them into meatless balls.

Fried Greens Meatlessballs
Fried Greens Meatlessballs

8. Smoothie them.

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

Green Smoothie With Avocado

Green Smoothie With Avocado by Gena Hamshaw

How to Make a Great Smoothie Without a Recipe

How to Make a Great Smoothie Without a Recipe by Hillary Pollak

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9. Alternatively, juice them.

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

Your Green Juice is Missing Something

Your Green Juice is Missing Something by Ali Slagle

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How to Juice Without a Juicer

How to Juice Without a Juicer by Lindsay-Jean Hard

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10. Pesto!

Swiss Chard Stalk Pesto with Pepitas

Swiss Chard Stalk Pesto with Pepitas by QueenSashy

Kale Pesto Orecchiette

Kale Pesto Orecchiette by Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

11. Blend them into soup.

Turn Any Bunches of Greens Into a Lively Soup
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Turn Any Bunches of Greens Into a Lively Soup

12. Add them to quiche.

How to Make (Creamy, Cheesy, Fluffy) Quiche That Exceeds Your Expectations
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How to Make (Creamy, Cheesy, Fluffy) Quiche That Exceeds Your Expectations

13. Spanakopita them.

Real-Deal Spanakopita, Straight from Yia Yia
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Real-Deal Spanakopita, Straight from Yia Yia

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.

Pickled Mustard Greens
Pickled Mustard Greens

15. Add them to pasta or soup.

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

Pici Pasta with Dandelion Greens

Pici Pasta with Dandelion Greens by FamilyStyle Food

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Soup with Cauliflower)

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Soup with Cauliflower) by Bogre

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