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Fending off druids - looking for your best recipes for kale, spinach, parsley and collard greens

My mother called the other day and told me that she has "druids on her eyes." She meant drusen, which are precursors for incurable macular degeneration. (Big bummer.) Her doctor told her to eat a cup of dark green leafy vegetables every other day - he mentioned parsley, kale, spinach, and collard greens. I think turnip greens are also recommended.

I'm making her some Kale and White Bean soup tonight, am planning some spanakopita in a day or two, and will drop off some take-out tabouli salad later. But I'd love some other ideas - especially for collard greens and turnip greens, which I've never cooked.

And I'm planning to up my intake of these greens as well, in hopes that I can fend off the "druids" before it's too late. So lots of variety would be a good thing.

What are your favorite recipes for parsley, kale, spinach, and collard or turnip greens?


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  1. Ina Garten's Spinach Gratin is fabulous. Here's a link:

    I also love scrambled eggs with spinach...even better with some garlic, onions and artichoke hearts.

    For kale, try this:
    Kale and Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
    1-1/4# kale, stemmed and cut into 1” pieces
    4C whole milk
    3-1/2C water
    2C polenta
    1/2t salt
    3/4t pepper
    4 oz. pancetta, or bacon, coarsely chopped
    4 oz. variety of mushrooms (crimini, oyster and stemmed shitake), sliced
    4T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/2C chicken broth
    2T chopped thyme
    1T grated lemon zest
    4T unsalted butter
    2/3C grated Parmesan

    Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain. Bring milk through pepper to boil in large saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Meanwhile, cook pancetta in large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add mushrooms and 2T oil to drippings in skillet. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in kale and pancetta. Add garlic and broth; simmer until broth is slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in thyme, lemon peel and 2T oil. Season with salt and pepper.

    Whisk butter and cheese into polenta and divide among plates. Top with kale mixture.

    6 servings

    1. Trader Joes makes a nice frozen chopped spinach. I use it in crepes. Top with a mornay sauce and some toasted almond slivers. It's also good in quiche or for soups.

      Parsley makes a nice refreshing salad. Just destem it and toss with a light shallot vinegrette.

      Turnip greens don't have much nutrition when I'm through with them. I cook them for hours with a ham hock or bone and serve with cornbread.

      Not a lover of kale... at all. Good luck in fending off the druids.

      1. the boiled kale four ways in zuni is a simple, tasty preparation--fry up onion, boil water, add kale, s+p. can look up exact details if anyone would like. variations include soaking in garlicky toast, adding poached egg, etc.

        1. I'm sorry about the druids!

          My favorite thing with greens is to put them in a big covered pot with a little water and boil/steam until tender--about 15 minutes for chard, then drain it and chop it. Heat olive oil in a saute pan, and add a clove or so of garlic and a little crushed red pepper. Saute those for a minute or so (don't brown the garlic) then add the drained greens and toss to absorb the olive oil and seasonings and heat through. Take it off the heat and drizzle with red wine vinegar. I could eat a cup of this every day!

          I do this all the time with chard, but turnip greens are similar, and spinach would work too. Kale and collards might be a little too tough for this treatment.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nettie

            I use this same technique (minus the vinegar) for spinach and collard greens. Never have trouble getting my boys to eat their leafy greens. I wish your mom well.

          2. My favorite recipe for Kale is quick braise from Ric Orlando's book; it is quite simple and so delicious.

            A Bunch of Kale - Curly and/or Lacinata
            Olive oil
            Sea salt

            My interpretation of this is to take a bunch of Kale, remove center rib, and wash, leaving the water on the leaves. Works with both Curly Kale and Lacinata Kale. I like to mix them.
            Anyway, slice very thinly a medium sweet onion.
            In the bottom of large saute pan, put 1 TBSP olive oil, cover with sliced onions so they make a even layer completely covering bottom of pan. Generously sprinkle with salt.
            Heat the onions over med-high heat, until they start to crackle. Add the greens and a 1/4 cup of water, cover for about 3-5 minutes, until greens are wilted and tender. Turn off heat, and uncover, stirring onions from bottom and mixing all thorough the greens. Ready to eat.
            Can also add some garlic and black pepper with the salt, although I like them as is. Simple, easy and delicious.

            And thanks for the post. I have macular degeneration in my family too - so I will be sure to keep eating these greens. Not exactly a hardship since I love them!

            1. Will your mom eat tofu? This is a truly delicious recipe posted by GretchenS a while ago that is now a keeper for us...if she's also watching her sodium, then you might use light soy sauce or dispense with the marinade entirely and just sear the tofu after draining it. Tofu with Gingered Greens is great and I've made it with kale and bok choy so far, love it both ways:


              1. We absolutely love the combination of: olive oil, garlic, kale, italian sausage, cannellini beans, crushed red pepper, and parmesan. Served with some french bread. Let me know if you'd like an exact recipe...

                6 Replies
                1. re: akp

                  Yes, I would love to have your exact recipe, thank you! Thanks for all the good ideas from others too, as I want to try several.

                  1. re: marycarol

                    Hi marycarol -

                    Here is the recipe that I adapted slightly from Fine Cooking. Great for week-nights - so tasty!

                    1 T. olive oil
                    1 onion, chopped
                    3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
                    2 cloves garlic, chopped
                    2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
                    1 head Kale, chopped
                    1 cup chicken broth
                    1 1/2 t. red wine vinegar, more to taste
                    Kosher salt
                    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

                    Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender. Add sausage, break up with wooden spoon and cook til lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the beans. Add the kale in batches as it wilts down. When all greens are in, add the chicken broth, cover, and cook til beans are heated through and greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar and salt. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle each portion with Parmesan. Enjoy!

                    1. re: akp

                      I make something similar to this, but with broccoli rabe instead of kale.

                      1. re: coll

                        The original recipe called for escarole - so I think it is very versatile!

                        1. re: akp

                          And I do something very similar with kale, potatoes, and kielbasa or linguica... sometimes with the white beans as well. It also makes a good soup if you lose the vinegar, and add more chicken broth and some milk or cream.

                      2. re: akp

                        Mmmmm. Sounds delicious! I make something similar with bacon. Sauted red peppers work well too.

                        Viceroy of India on Devon Avenue in Chicago makes an unbelievable Masala Dosa, a rice flour pancake stuffed with spinach, potato, and spices. Anyone have recipe for this delicacy?

                  2. Mustard greens are among my favorite greens. I render some bacon, wilt the washed greens in the bacon fat, add some dry white wine and a little water or vegetable broth, and cook until tender. At the end, add the crisp bacon back in.

                    Recently I've discovered steamed escarole. Slice it, steam, and season with olive oil that's had some garlic sauteed in it.

                    1. I'm not a doctor, but don't vitamins A&D help in addition to all those good greens?

                      1. Wishing your mom well. Here's a collard's recipe I found online a while back and switched up a bit. I'm a New Yorker but my husband from rural Maryland husband says these are some of the best he's had.

                        1/4 cup olive oil
                        2 tablespoons (or more depending on your taste) minced garlic
                        1 large sweet onion diced
                        5 cups chicken stock
                        1 large (two if smallish) smoked turkey drumstick (I remove the skin)
                        5 bunches collard greens, rinsed trimmed (strip from the center rib) and chopped
                        Salt and Pepper to taste
                        Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
                        Sugar or splenda to taste (optional)
                        Hot sauce (optional)

                        1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onion and sautee until starting to soften, then add garlic and sautee until garlic is golden. Season onions and garlic with crushed red pepper flakes if desired. Add chicken stock and the turkey leg. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

                        2. Add the collard greens to the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the greens cook down for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
                        3. Remove turkey leg from greens, remove bones and cartilage, shred meat and return to pot.
                        4. Reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper. If you like a little sweetness to your greens or they are too bitter, add a few teaspoons of sugar or splenda. If too much liquid (pot liquor) has evaporated add some more stock or water. You should have enough to continue cooking the greens but not so much the greens are soupy. Continue to cook the greens until they are tender and dark green - 45-60 minutes.
                        5. Test for final seasonings, make adjustments and if desired add more red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce. Drain to serve but save the pot liquor for reheating the greens. Also, many people serve the greens with a little pot liquor and corn bread to sop it up.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: laylag

                          I like to make radish greens, sauteed in bacon grease, throw in some meat chunks if you have around, red pepper flakes and garlic. It cooks up really fast.
                          I also make an escarole vegetarian soup, with barley and mushrooms and other stuff, if you want something more low calorie.

                        2. How about pakoras? Our local Indian restaurant makes some with spinach that are really delicious. I expect that the flash frying keeps most of the nutrients intact.

                          1. MD runs in my family. My aunt has it but my mom doesn't, yet. Anyway, a dietary supplement my mom has taken every day for years and swears it keeps the druids away is called Lutein.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Den

                              Lutein is a phytochemical found in leafy green vegetables.

                            2. How about a pureed soup, for when she gets tired of chomping on leaves? When I'm sick I often make a cauliflower spinach soup, with a potato thrown in to help bind. Saute an onion in the bottom of a big soup pot, add chicken or vegetable broth, cook a head of cauliflower and 1 potato until very soft, and then throw the spinach in for few minutes. You can also throw a can of chickpeas in here if you want a complete meal out of this. Add a teaspoon of cumin, one crushed garlic clove, some lemon juice, and blend! You can also grate some ginger in if you're in the mood.

                              1. Don't forget tabbouleh--it's great with lots of parsley! And I know that I'm always banging on about this recipe, but Nigella's watermelon-feta-black olive salad is heavy on the parsley (you just add it as whole leaves). Great in the summertime. You can search for it on www.nigella.com.

                                1. There's a recipe in the South Beach cookbook (the orange one) for "Hearty Minestrone"--nothing like any minestrone I've ever eaten, but full of greens. It calls, I think, for spinach or chard, maybe kale; since chard & kale aren't readily available in my local store I tend to use fresh spinach.

                                  I like to make stuffed mushrooms with spinach, garlic, and parmesan. You just saute the spinach and garlic with the chopped mushroom stems, stir in the parmesan, then lightly saute the caps and stuff the mixture back into them, and then put them under the broiler for like 5 minutes.

                                  But at our house we tend to eat large quantities of just sauteed spinach. For 2 of us we start with one of those 10-oz. or whatever they are bags of fresh spinach leaves and a shallot (or a few cloves of garlic if shallots aren't to be had, which frequently is the case). Saute the shallot in some olive oil until it begins to soften, then stir in the spinach and saute until it wilts. Just before it arrives at the desired level of doneness, I stir in a little malt vinegar, put a lid over it and turn off the heat. (You can use whatever kind of vinegar you want; I sometimes use white wine vinegar but I like malt best.)

                                  1. when we were overflowing with dark leafy greens from our CSA, I once made "kale chips" (I think I got the recipe or idea here). After washing and drying the kale leaves, spray lightly with pam and bake at 350 till crispy. They are "interesting" and kind of tasty with a bit of salt, and you can eat *a lot* of kale when prepared this way.

                                    1. I love Deborah Madison's Beans and Greens. Good cold, on toast, as a side dish ...

                                      Braised Mixed Greens and garlicky beans on toast
                                      Serves 3 to 4

                                      1 tablespoon olive oil
                                      1 small finley diced onion
                                      2 garlic cloves, 1 slivered, 1 halved (I usually up the garlic and mince one instead of halving)
                                      1-pound greens (I've been buying mixed Southern Greens at Trader Joes)

                                      1 1/2 cups cooked beans (borlotti, cannellini, etc.), made from scratch or canned (I like canned cannellini)

                                      Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When the onion starts to soften, add the garlice. Cook a bit more, and then add the greens. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Keep stirring the greens as they wilt, so that the wilted ones are on top and the unwilted ones get a chance to wilt. Once they've all wilted, add 1/2 c. water or chicken broth, lower the heat, and cook, partially covered, until the greens are tender (The time varies depending on the greens). When the greens are done, add the beans, heat them through, then add s&p to taste.

                                      1. I have made this Portuguese 'Caldo Verde' recipe many times. Simple to make, always delicious. I make the 'Fancy' version (which is hardly fancy).


                                        In Massachusetts, mose supermarkets carry a local Portuguese chourico and linguica. I must confess, though, that I usually use two links of Applegate Farm's Andouille sausage.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: poundcake

                                          I love Caldo Verde, is is a favorite soup. There are many ways to make it so google around. Any smoked sausage works, use what you like.

                                        2. re parsley: definitely make up the zuni salsa verde. i thank rubee for pointing this out to me, and you can find her post and the picture here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35599...

                                          basically, take a lot of parsley, one shallot, lemon zest, 1 tbsp capers (rinse and dry off), and mix it all up with olive oil, s+p, plus whatever you want to add in--other herbs, avocado, etc. i just had some on top of roasted broccoli and cauliflower and it was fantastic.

                                          the other great way of getting loads of green leafies is to make ghormeh sabzi, an herb stew that is the universal favorite dish of iranians everywhere. beyond my range of culinary experience, alas, but it's really heavenly stuff.

                                          1. My husband has been experimenting with different ways to make something like cole slaw. Last week he made a slaw of blanched leafy greens; it was similar to regular slaw but with whatever greens he'd found at our local Korean grocery. The blanching is crucial, since some of those greens are difficult to chew when raw.

                                            You could also change the dressing; instead of doing a mayonnaise-based slaw dressing, do an oil and vinegar sort.

                                            1. Wow! All these dishes sound great. Thank so much!

                                              Please keep the ideas coming - my mom and I plan to eat a LOT of these greens.


                                              1. Kale with sauteed goji berries and walnuts. This is my take on the traditional kale with raisins and pine nuts. Boil kale in a bit of water for about 5 minutes and drain. Save the water and drink it for health purposes. Heat up a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and add some thinly sliced garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add goji berries and saute for about a minute. Add kale and continue sauteeing for about a minute. Add sea salt to taste. Top off with walnuts.

                                                Druids generally deal with problems with the liver and kidney (in Oriental Medicine terms). Greens and goji berries are wonderful for the Liver and walnuts strengthen the kidneys. Goji berries are especially good for vision. You can pick them up at a health food store.

                                                1. Wonderful ideas so far, but if she is not a "cook" one easy idea she can do easily would be to teach her how to nuke the mentioned greens and then blend them with a low fat frozen mac and cheese or fettucine. Those things have enuf salt and sauce to handle a ton of greens. Another easy thing and one that can be frozen for weekly portions is a green soup- the greens (include watercress if possible), small chunks of potato, chicken stock or water- simmer till soft- use immersion blender to smooth. If she can have cream or 1/2 & 1/2 add that to mellow out. (or use fat free 1/2 & 1/2)

                                                  1. Sorry to hear about the druids. Hope this helps you and your Mom fend them off. I'm making a roasted butternut squash lasagne with kale and goat cheese (also a bechamel, of course). Even my sister who thinks she hates kale loves this. Good luck.

                                                    1. I made these spinach and kale turnovers from the January 2007 issue of Cooking Light and they were delicious. In fact, I'm making them again tomorrow.


                                                      You can substitute the canned biscuit dough with your own whole wheat pizza dough or...
                                                      In food processor, mix together: 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 package of quick rising yeast, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. sugar; pulse to blend ingredients. Combine 1/2 to 2/3 cup of hot water (120°F) with 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil and gradually pour in feed tube with motor running until ball of dough forms. Process for one minute to knead. Let rest for 20 minutes on counter before rolling in 8 balls. Roll out for each turnover.

                                                      1. For a very quick, minimal ingredients side dish, I love to "dry saute" these lovely, dark, leafy greens. Heat a pan (non-stick, or regular) and add a little olive oil and minced garlic, add the greens (spinach, kale, chard). Toss to mix garlic (preventing it from burning and adding a bitter taste), and continue to toss until greens are wilted. Season wtih S&P to taste. I sometimes add some red pepper flakes for a bit of spice. For broccoli rabe, I "steam" in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes (put in bowl and cover with a paper towel - you don't have to add water). This waterless cooking retains more nutrients in the vegetable. Easy, quick and delish!

                                                        1. I love to mix chopped fresh spinach into a bowl of cooked risotto... it cooks the spinach just enough to make it 'not raw' without turning it into a flavourless mess.

                                                          1. Do a site search on Panade. I made the Zuni Cafe version and we really like the silkyness of the chard in this treatment.

                                                            Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has tons of treatment of various greens. I especially like the type of vegetarian hash she does with lots of toasted garlic slivers cooked in olive oil with boiled then fried potatoes and then tossed and fried with drained simmered just tender collards (or other greens) and an optional diced tomatoes. This is great with poached eggs and even a sauce, like a red Chile sauce or whatever you like.

                                                            1. I don't have a recipe but Brazilian style collards are great and different from long-cooked style I'm used to. They are cut chiffonade and cooked with garlic, and are bright green. Maybe someone else knows the details.

                                                              I love kale (preferably local frosted but you can't have everything) and I cook the stems when boiling it--add the chopped stems 5 minutes or so before the leaves. Cooked kale sauteed with bacon & garlic (hot pepper optional) is really good. Lots of variations on that.

                                                              Greens-and-cheese stuffed calzones and similar turnover sorts of things.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                I think I tried this recipe, which sounds similar to what you describe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...
                                                                I didn't believe that you could cook collards that quickly, but it seemed to work. I think that the shorter cooking would preserve more of the beneficial nutrients, as well.