Cooking Greens for Greens Haters

| 10/15/2008 9:29:40 AM


From arugula to turnips, fall is the season for beautiful and nutritious cooked greens. Is there someone at your house who hates greens? The 10 ways to cook greens outlined here may convert them! Even if they are not swayed by Sicilian-style polenta with kale or Swiss chard strata, we greens lovers can always use fresh ideas to make fall a little more flavorful. 

Alton Brown's 2005 Good Eats episode called Field of Greens includes a killer recipe for Mustard Green Gratin, various versions of which get gobbled up fast at my house. Indeed, mixtures of cooked greens, eggs, milk, cheese and a little flour (which "set" when baked in a 325 degree oven) can be poured into a pie crust to make quiche, or you can stay crustless with a Spanish-style frittata.

A casserole bound together with egg and stale bread, called a strata, is easy and delicious when made with greens. Layer stale bread with chopped wilted greens, caramelized onions and fontina (or another nice melting cheese) in a buttered casserole dish. Pour in a mixture of 3 eggs and 1 cup milk, with a little cheese and bread crumbs on top. Bake until bubbly and set, and you have a great one-dish meal.

Making the most of the soft texture of cooked greens, Italians often enjoy them over polenta. My version of polenta – a half and half mixture of grits and coarsely ground whole cornmeal, cooked in lightly salted water until it stiffens – makes a fabulous bed for a mound of greens, roasted sweet peppers and grated hard cheese.

Medium-sized leaves picked from chard, kale and some types of mustard can be used as wrappers for not-really-cabbage rolls. Make a mixture of rice and meat, or rice and beans, or bulgur and mushrooms (you get the idea), roll it up in trimmed greens leaves, and place the rolls seam side down in a greased baking dish. Cover tightly, bake for about 45 minutes, and serve with a spicy-sweet condiment or mustard.

12/31/2011 2:58:12 PM

Two great recipes you must try! Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup, which is a classic in the old country as well as places with a lot of folks of Portuguese heritage, like here in New England. One typical recipe: On the fresh side, try a quick salad of finely sliced kale leaves, chopped red pepper, toasted sesame or sunflower seeds, and a simple dressing of rice vinegar, toasted sesame or olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Hideously nutritious!

Anna Hackman
12/31/2011 5:34:43 AM

@Maria, Russian Kale isn't bitter. It is a biannual plant for me. One year it grows, next year it goes to seed, and following year new kale. It can spread pretty quickly. My favorite greens recipe is really easy. Garlic, soy sauce, and mix of greens. You can add broccoli and/or cauliflower if you want. So amazing. See the recipe here:

maria hamilton
12/30/2011 8:23:53 PM

I would like to grow kale in my garden if I could find a good recipe to eat it. Are there any varieties that aren't so bitter? I would also like to keep from cooking any green "to death" if I can help it.

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