How to Cook Greens

Delicious Ways to Prepare Cooking Greens

Kale salad
Bill Boch / Getty Images

I'm a bit of a greens evangelist. I believe in the tasty power of kale and chard and other cooking greens. Sure, they're good for you, but they're also delicious when cooked properly. Find a way to tempt your palate with my favorite ways to cook greens below.

  • 01 of 05


    Blanching Stinging Nettles
    Molly Watson

    Blanching greens means to dunk them quickly in salted boiling water and then cool them down just as quickly with a dive into ice water or a bit of time under cold running water. Why would you do this? There are a few reasons. First, it "sets" their green color. Second, it wilts the leaves down for other preparations. Third, and this is the most useful for most people, it extracts some of their bitterness. If, for example, you're new to eating kale, its sharp flavor might strike you...MORE as a tad harsh. By blanching it before cooking it in another way, you will make it a bit milder in flavor. Does blanching leech out some of the vitamins? Yes. But not all of them, and slightly fewer kale vitamins are still better than no kale vitamins, which is how many you'll eat if you don't eat any kale because you don't like the flavor! See How to Blanch and How to Blanch Nettles for more details.

  • 02 of 05


    Greens Braised With Anchovy & Tomatoes
    Molly Watson

    Braising means to cook something slowly in a bit of liquid. Tougher, heartier greens like kale and collard greens respond extremely well to some long slow heat in an enclosed environment. They turn tender and even meltingly so and will soak up the flavor of whatever else you've put in the pot. Bacon, garlic, chiles, tomato - these are all good braising flavor agents. Get started braising greens with specific recipes like Greens Braised With Anchovy and Tomato and Greens With Onions, Pepper,...MORE and Ginger.

  • 03 of 05


    Greens and Green Garlic
    Molly Watson

    Cooking greens in a frying pan over medium-high to high heat with a bit of butter or oil is a quick and tasty way to serve them, that's for sure.

    1. Clean and chop the greens
    2. Heat a frying pan over medium-high to high heat
    3. Add about a tablespoon of butter or oil to the pan
    4. Swirl it around
    5. Add some minced garlic or shallot if that sounds good; I've been known to toss in some red pepper flakes for some heat
    6. Add the greens, sprinkle them with sea salt and cook, stirring constantly or at least...MORE frequently, until the greens are wilted and tender to eat; how long this takes depends on the greens - a few minutes for spinach, more like 10 to 15 minutes fro kale (actually, for kale and collards, you may want to cover them for a bit, adding some water to the pan, to help them soften)

    See Sauteed Pea Greens, Greens With Green Garlic, or Green With Mustard Seeds for specific recipes.

  • 04 of 05


    Kale and Bean Minestrone soup
    PoppyB / Getty Images

    Yum. I love greens in soups. You get to cook them down until quite tender, but all their nutrients stay right there in your bowl. I add greens to all kinds of soups. A few of my favorites include Turnip Soup With Turnip Greens, Kale and Bean Minestrone, and Red Chile Chard Soup.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05


    Garlicky Bok Choy
    Molly Watson

    Stir-frying is like sautéeing, just at a higher heat and with more stirring. While not technically necessary, I also tend to add flavors more common in Asian cuisines - soy sauce, fermented black beans, ginger - when stir-frying, as in this Garlicky Bok Choy.