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Green leafy vegetables.

I've had the largest craving for green leafy vegetables lately, and I'm looking for some new varieties to try out.

I prefer something that doesn't need to be blanched, but can be sauteed quickly with some garlic and oil, and stand on its own. I grew up eating sauteed broccoli rabe or escarole or spinach, so anything along those lines would probably be a safe bet. I hate raw salad leaves -- the texture makes me gag.

I've heard good things about mustard greens, dandelion greens, kale, arugula, endive, chicory, and swiss chard, but have no idea if these can be prepared similarly, or if I might like them.

Any suggestions?

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  1. I have been making kale and chard and after washing and chopping I do saute as you suggest, but perhaps I like it more tender than some because I feel it needs a little water (in addition to what is left on the leaves after washing) and then a cover for a few minutes; when it is tender enough I remove the cover to let any leftover water steam away. Sometimes I put in good grape tomotoes in season, sometimes a little balsamic vinegar. Also good tossed with pasta. I think if you like the spinach and rabe, you should definitely give kale and Swiss chard a try.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gourmanda

      I do agree that some of the greens need a bit of wilting with water or stock. Put as little in as possible after pan frying them.

      I never thought of adding grape tomatoes. I'll bet the acidity is a nice pairing with the slight bitterness of the greens. YUMMY!!!

    2. I don't think I'd cook dandelion greens or arugula. Chard (green or red) is good sauteed, just chop up the veins separate from the rest of the leaf and start them in the pan a minute or so before the rest. Mustard greens have a definite bite most of the time so don't expect the same taste. I think they're good with chickpeas and curry spices. You can try baby bok choy or maybe regular bok choy without blanching. If you're willing to blanch, there are a lot of options. I'd say just find an Asian grocer, buy some green veggies (yau choy, Chinese broccoli, etc) you don't recognize, blanch or steam if thick, stir fry/saute if they seem small enough to cook through. If you don't like it, at least you learned something.

      4 Replies
      1. re: luniz

        I'll second the arugula choice.

        1. re: luniz

          Why not cook dandelion greens or arugula? I adore arugula pesto. Just blitz the arugula with the oil of your choice and some hazelnuts and hard cheese of your choice. YUM. Dump on hot pasta.

          Dandelion greens would be great cooked southern style.

          I love chard, especially in lasagna. It's also fabulous sauteed with some garlicky olive oil, golden raisins, garlic and fresh red pepper flakes. The sweet-hot style is zippy.

          1. re: Vetter

            Re: arugula pesto - that has to be the most exciting thing since grape leaf pesto (http://www.chow.com/blog/2009/07/grap...). I am trying that this weekend, thanks.

          2. re: luniz

            in my neck of the woods, arugula is very expensive. cooking enough of it to make a decent serving would be pricey -- plus, i don't think it tastes great cooked.

            really fresh mustard greens are a revelation, but sadly, those are hard to come by.

          3. I make all these greens, with the exception of endive and chicory, by the method you mentioned. I especially like dandelion greens, though many people find them too bitter.

            I would also highly recommend you to try out any Asian greens you can get. There are many delicious varieties if you live near a Chinatown or an Asian market. I especially like Yu Choy, Chinese broccoli, bok choy, and pea shoots.

            4 Replies
            1. re: visciole

              Second the Chinatown suggestion. Also a huge fan of water spinach.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                3rd on the Chinese vegetables.... Napa cabbage and the various choys.
                Also, Savoy cabbage and the red & green/white varieties.
                Endive is lovely either braised or in a gratin and chicory is a very nice addition to soups.

                1. re: Gio

                  Bok Choy is awesome with the greens included. i add them at the end so they don't become overcooked. I also add them to a chicken soup with asian noodles that I make. So good.

                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                    i love whole or split baby bok choy, esp. braised with some chicken stock, soy sauce, a dash of oyster sauce, and garlic. then squeeze some lemon on top, if you like a little acidic kick -- or some hot chili vinegar, to keep in the genre.

                    a quickie way is to braise in a little water with one of these lee kum kee sauces: http://usa.lkk.com/Common/08Consumer/...

                    i like to use napa cabbage to make cole slaw sometimes.
                    cook regular cabbage (chopped) with some bacon and diced rutabaga.

            2. I'd forgotten that I like the bite of mustard greens. I believe I sauteed them and added grated parmesan. Haven't fixed them in awhile. I'll have to look for them. Garlic would be good with them too, I think.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sueatmo

                Sueatmo, do you find the bite is still there when the mustard greens are cooked? I just recently discovered them and I LOVE the wasabi-like noseburn I get eating them raw...but sauteed or added to a soup, that sensation goes away, for me...just wondering how you compare the raw. vs. cooked.

              2. you might also try mustard, turnip or collards in a traditional southern prep. i simmer torn greens in chicken broth with a pinch of red pepper flake until the greens are tender. usually done to quite tender by most southern cooks but you can stop wherever you like. turnip greens are often simmered with diced turnip.

                serve with a piece of cornbread and plenty of the broth with vinegar to taste. and a side of any beans you like. pintos are traditional. next day add more broth and some slivered ham or chicken and thin sliced onion for a quick soup.

                if you're truly craving, the "pot liquor" is a good break drink on its own.

                  1. We steam collard greens and top them with a mixture of peanut butter and salsa. Amaranth greens taste like sweet spinach. You might like baby bok choy.

                    1. This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but lately I've been sauteeing petite brussel sprouts in tons of garlic and butter spray. I often have a huge bowl of this for dinner.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: soypower

                        Baby Brussels sprouts with carmelized pecans!

                        1. re: lgss

                          I love brussel sprouts, not so sure about carmelized pecans.... :P

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Sometimes, I bake mine in cream, butter, and parm. OMG. Talk about heaven. it kind of negates the idea of having a healthy veggie though.

                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                              :) For a second, I mis-read and thought you bake yours brussel sprouts in ICE-cream.

                      2. Chard, Radicchio and Kale are good sauteed. There are many Chinese and Japanese vegetables good in stir fry and by themselves such as pak choi, komatsuna (mustard spinach) and mibuna. You might try looking at a seed supplier's site like Cooks Garden, Johnny's or Pinetree to see the many varieties available. (see below)

                        I like arugula and mizuna in salads but haven't tried to saute them. Perhaps you could stomach raw greens if you found a salad dressing that you liked.


                        1. Have you tried roasting kale or collards yet? It's kind of the new trend, and it is SO good. I like it best with lacinato kale, but whatever works. Just oil the leaves lightly, salt and bake.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Vetter

                            Hmmm, this is really interesting. What's the texture of the roasted greens? I'm imagining crunchy?

                            1. re: mollyomormon

                              Yes, crunchy. Think "chips." Strangely addictive.

                          2. My parents used to grow swiss chard in our garden, it's one of my favorite vegetables ever. It's a bit bitter, but tastes pretty great with a small butter and flour roux.

                            Wash the chard thoroughly and steam for about five minutes. Drain, chop/Meanwhile, in the same heated pan start melting a couple tablespoons butter and a tiny bit of salt over low heat. add a small spoonful of flour to make a roux and whisk until combined. when slightly browned, throw in the chopped chard, stir, cover, keep at low heat, and serve.

                            1. I LOVE greens. My standard prep for quicker-cooking greens (spinach, swiss chard, arugula, dandelion greens) is to saute a little garlic in olive oil, fill the pan with greens, salt them and give them a quick stir, then splash a little vinegar or lemon juice and sprinkle on some red pepper flakes. Stir and saute until wilted. I do think that dark greens need a bit of acid.

                              For tougher greens (kale, mustard greens), I like to put them in soups or cut them in ribbons and put them in stir-fries. Kale is especially nice in cream soups.

                              1. Rapini hasn't been mentioned yet. Leeks are a half-way house in terms of green stuff.

                                1. Made collards last night. Cut the leaves into 1 inch pieces and put in a pot with about 1/4 inch of water. Once the water has evaporated/been absorbed, I add olive oil, crushed red peper, and garlic. Quick, easy, and delicious.

                                  1. Broccolini is great, as are Brussels sprouts. You can roast or sautee either without blanching (I prefer roasting.) I always sautee mustard greens in olive oil and a bit of butter. Boiling makes them terribly bitter. Mustard greens are delightful served over a black-eyed pea and bacon cake/fritter with a bit of creamy tomato gravy.

                                    The only veggie I will make that is boiled is potatoes. All of my veggies get roasted, sauted, or on occasion steamed. Boiling is evil.

                                    1. Dandelion greens make a tasty addition to fresh carrot juice.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lgss

                                        I've read that lemon juice is also great in carrot juice! I just love the dandelion greens in a salad alone...have a pot of red-ribbed dandelion growing right now since October when I bought a pot of it at Farmer's Market...hope the Florida cold weather doesn't kill it...but I've covered them over with a sheet.

                                        1. re: lgss

                                          I like some bite so I add some ginger juice.

                                        2. Have you tried cooked watercress? Or amaranth greens? Both can be quickly sauteed and served immediately with olive oil, garlic and lemon.

                                          1. Tatsoi is one of my favorites.
                                            Lately, I've been digging mustard greens and of course, rabe.
                                            I enjoy eating leftover greens with eggs in the morning.

                                            1. Like the OP, I love escarole and broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic.

                                              Chinese mustard greens -- different looking from regular mustard greens (I've attached a picture) -- are delectable when chopped coarsely and sauteed with garlic. No need to blanch at all.

                                              Same goes for some other, darker-green Asian-market veggies: kong chin cai (hollow-stem vegetable) and dou miau (snow pea tops, flowers and shoots). The dou miau is particularly tasty, but can be expensive.

                                              1. Ok, I'll admit, i didn't read the rest of the responses. I love sauteed spinach, sauteed chard (all varieties, neon being my favorite), sauteed broccoli rabe..... all with (blanching aside) evoo, chili flakes, and garlic.... and btw, the rapini and neon chard were my favorites by far..

                                                oh and add chinese broccoli as my favorite green i've ever tasted? especially sauteed with garlic, ginger, soy, and red pepper flakes like i've always had them

                                                1. I sauteed some daikon greens last night, and they were delicious. Like turnip greens, but milder.

                                                  1. Aspiration, or broccolini, is easy and is best prepared, IMO, exactly as broccoli rabe.

                                                    1. One green that wasn't mentioned here is a childhood favorite and FREE to forage! Growing up in the S.Bay area when fruit orchards were abundant my parents who immigrated from the Philippines would harvest wild mustard greens during the spring. They are recognizable from their yellow flowers. Must be picked before they flower when they are tender. My Mother's standard preparation was to first wash them well and shake dry leaving some remaining water to help them steam, heat a saute pan to high, add either bacon fat or lard followed immediately with the greens. Cook to au sec (dry) then hit with soy sauce. The desired results are tender, slightly charred, and caramelized by the soy. Enjoy the umami along with the mustard's delicious natural bitterness. I've been told that Italian immigrants enjoy them as well.

                                                      1. Nobody has mentioned my favorite - beet greens! Use them as though they were spinach.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Sharuf

                                                          I like beets a lot but I LOVE beet greens even more!

                                                          1. re: kemi5

                                                            I was in the checkout line, and the fellow ahead of me asked the checker to remove the tops from a couple of bunches of beets. She set them aside. I asked her what she was going to do with them, and she said "give them to you". Oh, joy!

                                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                                              A checker recently planned to break the greens off beets we were buying and we had to quickly tell him we wanted them intact.

                                                        2. One thing I like about kale is that it retains its texture and volume even when steamed. Many greens (especially spinach) tend to wilt down to the point where you have very little left. But kale keeps its body, I guess because it's more fibrous than most.

                                                          I love lacinata kale.

                                                          Haven't tried roasting it yet; that sounds great.