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Five Ways to Cook Dark Leafy Greens

August 13, 2013 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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I love watching my son enthusiastically pull bunches of kale and chard out of our weekly veggie box.

The greens are half his height and he waves them around like some sort of trophy.

While he’s having fun, I’m busy thinking up how to build all these greens into our weekly meal plan.

If you have a garden or get a weekly vegetable box from a Community Supported Agriculture program you’ve likely experienced an overabundance of dark leafy greens at one time or another. While you probably already know that dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients, you may not know what to do with them when they start piling up in your fridge. Here are some ideas to help you through a forest of greens.

Leafy greens won’t last long in the fridge so you need to decide whether you’re going to:

  • Eat them up this week, or
  • Blanch and freeze them for later. 

Step 1: Wash and Trim

  • Wash your greens well in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt or sand caught in the leaves. If you plan on making a salad, dry the leaves in a salad spinner or with a clean kitchen towel. There’s no need to dry the leaves if you plan on cooking them.
  • Remove the tough stems from the leaves. You can cut away the stems with a knife or rip the leaves off the stems with your hands (this is a great task for kids). 
  • If the leaves are tough, slice them finely. Otherwise, cut or tear them into bite sized pieces. 

Step 2: Get Cooking

When it comes to using up a bunch of greens, I like to cook them because the greens shrink down a lot during cooking. Here are five of my go-to meal ideas for cooking up greens at home.

  1. Spanakopita: I love the traditional Greek spinach pie. I also like to use kale or Swiss chard instead of spinach and cook it into a log shape. This dish is highly adaptable and can use up a lot of greens.
  2. Stir Fry: Sturdy greens like kale, Swiss chard or collards are great substitutes for bok choy or gai lan in stir fries.
  3. Pasta: Dark greens cook up well with pasta. Add them to your tomato sauce or sauté them in olive oil and serve with a sharp cheese. 
  4. Soup: Kale and potato soup is a comforting dish on a cool night. White beans, sweet potato or sausage also pair well with kale and collards.
  5. Egg Dishes: Add lightly cooked Swiss chard or spinach into quiche, omelets or egg muffins (‘omelets’ baked in muffin tins). 

So there you have it, five greens-based meal ideas to take you through the week and use up your stack of dark leafy greens. Bon Appétit!


Related Posts:

A Winning Way to Eat More Veggies
Tweens Teach Me About Greens
Envious Greens

Recommended Resources:

Foods that fight Cancer 
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