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How to Cook Greens Without a Recipe

Fresh greens are abundant in our CSA Shares! Throughout our CSA season we usually have lettuce, and a great variety of other greens like kale, mizuna, arugula, mustard greens, bok choy, swiss chard, and dandelion greens. All of the greens can be enjoyed raw and cooked. Simple sautéd greens are a great side at any meal.

Step 1. Grab a bundle (or two) of greens and prep for cooking. The greens in our CSA Shares are washed after harvest but we recommend you wash them again before eating. Greens can be washed by rinsing each leaf under running water or by filling a clean sink or a large bowl with water and dunking them in.  I use a salad spinner to submerge the greens in several batches of water.  The water clings to the greens and helps cook them down in the pan. For cooking greens I always remove the stems.  You can slice the stems into smaller pieces and add them to the pan before the greens to insure they cook all the way or compost them.  The easiest way to slice greens after removing the stems is to roll them in a bundle then slice bite size pieces off.

Step 2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil, canola oil, bacon fat, or other cooking fat in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add minced garlic, onion, ginger, shallots, or a combination.  Cook for about a minute then add greens tossing with tongs. If you are using any stem pieces, add them first, followed by the leafy pieces. Add a tablespoon of something acidic like citrus or vinegar (apple cider, rice, or white wine vinegar work well) then cover for a few minutes.

Step 3. Add cheese, nuts and seeds, or dried fruit.  Taste before serving and season with salt and pepper.

Other Ideas. 

  • Braised. A quick braise in vegetable or chicken stock is also a great way to enjoy your greens.  In a large sauté pan bring 1 or 2 cups of stock to a simmer.  Add greens, cover and cook until wilted but still green.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Flavor Ideas. Olive oil, garlic, red bell pepper, greens, and balsamic. Olive oil, tomato, greens, blue cheese, and toasted walnuts. Sesame oil, garlic, ginger, greens, soy or lemon. Sesame oil, garlic, ginger, greens, sunflower seeds, and tahini. Bacon fat, garlic, greens, cooked white beans or sausage.
  • Steamed. If you have a steamer pot or basket great, if not, you can also use a metal strainer in a pot.  Just get an inch or two of water boiling in the pot with the greens suspended just above the water.  Cover the pot with a lid and steam on medium heat for several minutes until the greens are vibrant and tender.  When cooking this way- often all you need is a squeeze of lemon at the end.
  • Pasta. Throw the washed and chopped greens into the boiling water with the pasta a couple minutes before the pasta is done, simply drain the pasta and greens all togher and top with your favorite sauce- quick and easy!
  • Soup. Toss washed and chopped greens into any soup- home made or store bought.  Just add the greens to the soup and heat up as usual.
  • Eggs. Add greens into scrambled eggs or make a frittata.  Check out Cooking Frittata without a recipe for more ideas!
  • Freeze. To freeze greens for later use, remove stems, clean and chop greens.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Blanch greens by cooking for one minute, then use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Freeze cooled greens in one and two cup containers to use later in the week.  Thaw and use in soups, stews, and sautés.
  • You can store washed and/or chopped greens in a container in the refrigerator for quick use throughout the week.

How to Cook Greens Without a Recipe

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