Discovering Winter and Spring Greens by Mary Fisher, MS, RD


Spring greens make wonderful salads, but winter greens including kale, collard, mustard, turnip greens, spinach and Swiss chard are great additions to hearty soups, casseroles and gratins.  Winter greens are still plentiful at the supermarket and at local Farmers markets.

Winter greens add fiber; cancer-fighting antioxidants; vitamins A, C, and K; folic acid, and calcium to our diets. The dark leafy greens usually are inexpensive, and when they’re paired with the right ingredients and cooked properly, even the pickiest eater will love them.

Chopped chard or kale can be added to bean or vegetable soups or pasta sauce. Stir chopped greens in at the end of cooking, and cover and let cook for about 15 minutes. 

Fresh kale, such as the Lacinato variety can be finely chopped and used as a salad or stand-in for slaw.  Mix with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, shredded Parmesan, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Visit the Farmer’s Market tomorrow to purchase a variety of Winter and Spring Greens!

Here are descriptions of the various greens.

■ Kale has an earthy, slightly bitter, broccoli-like flavor and is delicious sautéed with olive oil, steamed, added to soups or even eaten raw in salads.

■ Collard greens have a milder flavor than kale, and they’re good sautéed briefly, steamed or braised.

■ Mustard greens are the most pungent of the cooking greens and add a peppery flavor to food. Curly mustard is distinctive for its frilly leaf edges. Mustard is commonly served as a cooked vegetable. Steamed or stir-fried, its soft dark leaves and sturdy white stalks are complemented with butter, pepper, salt or fresh lemon juice.

■ Spinach has a sweet earthy flavor and tastes great eaten raw in salads or steamed.

■ Turnip greens have an earthy peppery flavor and are delicious in salads and stews, or sautéed.

■ Swiss chard is another sweet earthy green. It’s delicious in soups, sautéed or steamed.


Here are some tips for cooking the nutritious vegetable:

■ Make sure greens are washed well.

■ Remove the stems if they’re thick. You don’t have to throw them away; you can cook them too, but they just take a bit longer.

■ Boil the greens for 3 to 5 minutes in salted water, just until tender.

■ Steam the greens for 2 to 3 minutes.

■ Sauté the greens by heating a little olive oil over medium heat. Add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the greens. Sauté the greens until they’re slightly wilted, then cover and cook (adding some water if needed) until tender.


Here’s how to stem and cut winter greens:

  • Winter greens such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach can be stemmed, lay several leaves on top of one another and tightly roll, then slice rolled leaves into thin strips and separate.
  • For tender greens, simply break off tough stems. For tougher greens, cut the center rib from between the leaf as well.





Spicy braised greens

2 pounds kale, collards, turnip greens or mustard greens, stemmed, washed and chopped (see note)

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, sliced

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 30 minutes, until greens are softened but are still a nice shade of green. Stir, replace cover, and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.

Note: Choose any assertive greens for this recipe, but remember that they all will shrink significantly when cooked.

From The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook


Sautéed collards with almonds and raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 tablespoon olive oil

11/4 pounds (about 2 bunches) collard greens, stalks removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise

1/2 cup raisins

2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds on rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add collard greens and raisins; cook, tossing occasionally, until collards are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar. Serve sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Makes 4 servings.

From Everyday Food Light

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