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Dark Leafy Greens Question(s)

This topic may bore some, but I have a couple questions concerning leafy greens.

First question: what is your favorite dark leafy green? Kale, collards, escarole? Rappi, spinach, chard? Something else? (My favorite is probably escarole or rappi!)

Second question: Do you use leafy greens interchangeably in dishes?

P.S. Saying or typing leafy greens this many times makes the phrase sound/look so weird..

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  1. I like them all. I don't think there is a leafy green (dark or not) that I do not like.

    I think my least favorite might be UNcooked kale, even though I love kale in almost all other forms cooked (even lightly blanched).

    5 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I find massaging the kale leaves help make it more tender [to eat uncooked].

      1. re: hawkeyeui93

        This Massaged with lime juice. Then a salad of that massaged kale, avocado, and mango with a coconut milk and lime dressing. Heaven.

        1. re: debbiel

          Sounds great. Now I know how the next batch of my garden kale will be prepared. Thanks!

      2. re: ipsedixit

        I love kale, but unless it is very young and tender, I can't eat it raw. Nothing to do with TASTE - more farther down in the digestive tract.

        Is rappi the same thing as rapini? Love that too, but at least blanched. Chard: mmmm. Then JayL reminds us of calaloo...

        In the Netherlands, kale is a staple (stampot and soup) and is often sold chopped and frozen. Freezing actually improves it, unlike most vegetables, as it makes it far less tough (by breaking down the cell walls, I presume?) without overcooking it. You can wash a kale and stick it (slightly moist) in the freezer overnight, and see the difference.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I make a salad using black/tuscan kale (goes by a lot of other names). I crush several cloves of garlic into a paste. Paste goes into the salad bowl. Squeeze in juice of a lemon. Add evoo - I use about twice the amount of lemon juice. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of grated parm cheese along with salt and pepper. Mix well. Strip the kale from the stems and tear into bite sized pieces, wash and dry and toss in the dressing. Important part is to now let this sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the lemon acid to work on the kale. When you're ready to serve, toss again and add croutons (obviously home made). Made my wife a convert to raw kale.

        2. I also love all leafy greens. My favorite way to cook them is in a little water and about 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a sliced onion. I want some now!

          1. Escarole (in chicken soup) and kale (roasted to crispiness and tossed with olive oil and salt).

            1. I like all of them, except collards. I may need to give them another try, but they've always tasted muddy in a bad way (not in a nice earthy way). I do switch around a bit - I tend to use kale or chard instead or along with spinach in a lot of cooked applications - especially soup since it reheats and holds up better. Chard can be up to a dollar cheaper per bunch (and for a larger bunch) than kale so I usually buy the cheapest green.I love escarole, but I don't find it in the store ever - only for a short season at the farmers market (and then only if I show up early).

              2 Replies
              1. re: corneygirl

                Sounds like they were improperly cleaned, to me. They have many crevices where dirt and grit can hide. I rinse them in several changes of water before I prepare them.

                The late Justin WIlson remembered a friend who grew many rows of collards. They washed them on the rinse cycle of their washing machine.

                Also, if the tough stems weren't properly removed, I think they have an unpleasant taste.

                How were they prepared?

                The nicest thing anybody ever said about my cooking was when a native Southerner said to me (born and raised in Cincinnati by a Kentucky woman) that my collards were "better than my mammy's."

                1. re: jmckee

                  I've made them a couple ways - sautéed down and also in a soup. They weren't gritty it was just kind of a muted flavor - sort of like mustard greens, but without bitterness (I like bitter flavors). It has been a while and I have eaten a LOT more greens over the last few years. If you're willing to share I'd love to know how you make yours - I'm open to changing my opinion!

              2. Two of my favourites are water spinach - great stir fried with garlic or blanched - and chayote squash leaves (the same way, or blanched and chilled and used in a salad.)

                1. All have different purposes and pretty much everything available gets cooked in this house. However, what gets used more often than anything else are what are sold as "spring greens" - usually the loose outer leaves of cabbage,Brussels sprouts leaves, etc.

                  1. Kale, collards and beet greens top my list. Spinich either raw or incorporated in a cooked dish.

                      1. re: JayL

                        I have to add bhaji to my list...my Caribbean wife would freak if she knew I didn't mention it.

                        Bhaji is the green top to the tuber they call dasheen (in Trinidad). Dasheen is a taro...and the roots and greens are both edible and quite delicious.

                        A favorite dish made with bhaji is calaloo.

                      2. Broccoli Rabe is my absolute favorite, cooked in EVO, mucho garlic, crushed red pepper on Italian Bread(from Arthur Avenue if I can get it). Bliss! I absolutely ABHOR kale but regret missing out on its alleged health benefits. Is there a palatable way to prepare this vegetable besides throwing it in a smoothie to mask it?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sagetom

                          That's how I like my broccoli rabe (or rapini, or rappi) prepared as well. So simple and good. I add cannelini beans.

                          1. re: sagetom

                            Portuguese Kale and Sausage soup!

                            1. re: sagetom

                              This salad has converted many many a kale hater. Notes: i often use all kale w/o the brussel sprouts, half as much oil, and massage the dressing into the salad and let it sit an hour min before serving. Keeps great leftovers for days

                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                What timing... I have a half a bunch of kale, and a big handful of brussel sprouts.. will be perfect for my roadtrip on Monday!

                            2. Love all greens except poke salat.

                              1. My new fave is kale. I cook it with indian spices though, so it's not just sautéed or blanched. I julienne it, then heat some oil in a skillet. Add some whole cumin seeds, and red chilli flakes. When the seeds sizzle,add in some hing (asofotida), some cumin powder and some coriander powder. Stir, then add the julienned kale. Add about 1/4 cup or so of water, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the kale is soft and the water is dried up. Add your salt to taste.

                                I also cook spinach, mustard greens and fenugreek leaves, but in indian preparations. Collards are usually done with a smoked turkey leg or ham hock with plenty of onion.

                                1. As many others I like all Leafy Greens if I had to pick some favorites; Taro , Turnip, and Collards.
                                  I do not use them all interchangeably. Some are much more tender and some have very strong flavors.
                                  It is easy to judge which will work in place of another with a bit of thought.

                                  1. There isn't one I've tried that I don't like, very much including poke sallet (which I'd consider almost moving back to Tennessee for!). Kale is one of my least favorites, though that depends on how it's prepared and what comes with it. I want it cooked quite tender, and I want it with something a bit rich and voluptuous; my favorite so far is polenta with Fontina cheese shredded and mixed in. Tonight I'm braising it with bratwurst (my Favorite Vegetarian is out of town for the week) and little potatoes, and expect to enjoy it.

                                    Collards is another green that begs for a bit of pork or something. The best ones I've had were done by our friend Jerry, who parboiled and chopped them (as I recall) and then put them onto a sheet in the oven occupied by roasting sausages and I believe some roots and tubers. Mrs. O was a carnivore back then and did not care for most greens, but she devoured these.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Will, you mention collards and I couldn't help remember that my grandmother (originally Missouri, Oklahoma after marriage) would chop collards finely then simmer them long and slow with salt pork. She liked to serve them with black-eyed peas. Of course, and cornbread from the cast iron skillet.

                                    2. I like most I have encountered but my all time favorite has to be spinach. I liked it even as a child I've also had a fondness for collards/mustard/turnip greens, by themselves or as 'mixed greens' for a long time.

                                      Two I have not liked have been water spinach - had it in my garden and tried it many times - and molokia/Jew's mallow, which I've had only a couple of times in Northern African/Middle eastern dishes.

                                      My most recent new fave - colocasia (taro leaves). Just had it once in a Gujarati dish, Turia Patra, and I'm eager to have some more.

                                      And I do like kale.

                                      1. I love pretty much all leafy greens. Collards, mustards and kales probably get the most use in my home and generally I may use these particular bitter greens interchangeably. Vegetable tops (i.e. carrot tops, turnip tops, radish tops) usually also get the same treatments. Others of my favorite greens like water spinach or molokhia have their own uses. Taro leaves are one of the few greens I have only a single use for: cooking them with pork belly, coconut milk and a handful of chilies and ginger.

                                        1. No favorite, just what's fresh at the market.

                                          I do prefer bitter greens. Dandelion greens, especially if I picked them myself. Wild dandelion greens are especially bitter :-)

                                          For other greens, like black eyed peas and swiss chard is a classic Greek dish. Squeeze of lemon and copious amounts of olive oil.

                                          With the exception of southern style collards and sometimes kale, I usually cook my greens without meat. They are a side dish to meat or fish, or one meal of the day.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                            What are your favorite ways to prepare dandelion greens?

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              I tend to cook all my greens vegetarian. There are some exceptions.

                                              Dandelion greens will get a good boil in salted water and plated with a heavy dose of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a copious amount of olive oil (in lieu of fat like bacon or ham) salt and pepper.

                                              I especially like my greens boiled and plated with a sizzling frypan of olive oil and garlic poured over the top. That has options of red chili flakes and/or lemon juice.

                                              Garden or market dandelion greens, fresh and young make a nice salad. Lemon olive oil dressing.

                                              The water I boil my dandelion greens in I also drink. Its plated in a bowl with the greens and the remaining in the pot is put in the fridge as refreshing drink for breakfast.

                                            2. re: Gastronomos

                                              Oh, dandelion greens are so good. I love them sateed with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

                                              1. re: SilverMoth

                                                This sounds quite good. Interesting greens are hard to get tired of.

                                            3. I like them all, with my favorite being kale (and DH's favorite is chard). My least favorite is baby spinach, it doesn't have much flavor. I generally buy what ever look best at the farmer's market, and use them interchangeably.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: firecooked

                                                we like all the dark leafy greens as well--- the bitter dandelion and lacinato kale being the current favs

                                              2. Of the greens I have tried broccoli rabe is my favorite when done correctly, spinach I can eat in any prep though.

                                                Least favorite is collard greens. I do use interchangeably.

                                                1. not a big fan of kale or collards but love escarole and rabe. the former is great in soup with lots of lemon and the latter with garlic, chili flake and grated cheese.

                                                  also love arugula and watercress.

                                                  spinach no longer seems all that bitter to me and i eat it often.

                                                  1. I love spinach but it cooks down so much that it takes an awful lot to make a decent sized batch. So I tend to eat it more often raw in salads, even though I really like it cooked too.

                                                    Kale, on the other hand, retains its volume well when cooked and I frequently do steamed kale. Will have to try massaging it the next time I get some.

                                                    Also a fan of chard & collards & bok choy (though I guess that doesn't really qualify as a leafy green, much less a dark one). And broccoli rabe, though I buy it only seldom.

                                                    Dandelions and mustard greens, yeah... Don't like turnip greens much but I've never liked turnips.

                                                    Does watercress count? I love the stuff but it seems harder to find in the local supermarkets in recent years.

                                                    1. I love spinach and am just now exploring other dark leafy greens. I recently tried kale and I might have to try it again to decide whether I like it or not, but this week I thought I'd try swiss chard. Does anyone have any suggested prep tips? I planned to simply saute with olive oil and garlic, but any favorite recipes might be a nice way to start.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Saute as you suggest but add a little acid at the end (lemon juice or your favourite vinegar). When I have chard I put it in any soup I'm making and in a variety of pasta sauces; this may not be the "correct" use of chard but I find it adds great texture and flavour (not to mention needed fibre) to any soup/pasta sauce.

                                                        1. re: vanderb

                                                          Great just bought a bouquet of the stuff. Do I remove the thick stems?

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            Yes. Either chop the stems thin if they are tender and cook them first a bit, then add the greens.
                                                            If the stems seem very thick and tough then just toss them out

                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              Wow, great thread. I sauteed the chard with garlic and mixed it with Feta and tomatoes as a stuffing for pork. It was great. Just a question - the store had red and green, is there a difference?

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                There are also white and yellow varieties of chard, but I have not noticed a real difference in flavour or cooking properties. Great idea on the pork stuffing, I'm going to "borrow" that some time in the next few weekends. Which cut of pork did you use?

                                                                1. re: vanderb

                                                                  I used a pork tenderloin which I often choose for stuffed meats because it's size and shape are just perfect especially as I always make more stuffing than can usually fit in a chicken breast or chop. However, with this stuffing, the Feta makes it nice that you don't have to worry too much about sealing in the stuffing as it doesn't ooze away.

                                                        2. I really, really like escarole and frisee- and especially nice fresh bluish kale that was grown in a winter garden- it's actually sweet. I like them raw, collard, turnip, mustard, etc. greens need some cooking, but I like them less well-done than most people. Spinach is always good, if it's really good spinach I like it raw. oh- beet greens are really good, too, I like them young and raw.

                                                          I realize that escarole & frisee aren't really dark, but hey- you mentioned them first! (jk)

                                                          I guess I love most of them, and many of them raw.

                                                          1. I spent a couple of weeks in Crete this year, the Cretan diet is famous for it's use of the 200+ varieties of greens that grow wild on the island. Not a single dinner passed by where a side of boiled greens (with lemon juice and evoo to finish) were not present. I haven't got a clue which greens were in season when I was there in May but I didn't find a single one that wasn't delicious.... and the fibre content was a huge benefit :-)

                                                            Other than Cretan greens my favs are Swiss Chard, broccoli rabe and beet tops. Sadly in my current town in central Europe these are all very rare and usually require a drive to Vienna to locate. I could get lots of beet tops but I'd have to buy the beets too (which I can't stomach) and hate to be wasteful. I've tried to convince some vendors at the local farmer's market to sell me the tops but the language barrier and a general failure to believe I don't want the beets, prevents this transaction from occuring.

                                                            1. I used this on a chard/collards mix, but whatever your favorite, try it with a good olive oil and a splash of Blood Orange Vinegar. If you live near San Antonio, TX, it's available at GauchoGourmet on Isom St. near the airport. Too good!

                                                              1. I love them all, but I have to say that I've been binging on Kale lately with collards in between. ANd yes, I do interchange them.

                                                                1. Related question for you dark green fans-I bought Swiss chard for the first time and plan to use as a stuffing, should I blanch it of saute it briefly it to wilt?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. I go to Asian markets for greens, the variety is amazing. There is a thick stemmed green that is not always labeled that is my favorite. Sometimes it has flowers on top. It stays crunchy when cooked. Prepare in a skillet with oil and garlic. splash with tamari.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                      Are you thinking of choy sum? Gai lan sometimes has flowers, but choy sum has thicker stems that retain their firm texture better.