Fresh greens should be crisp and not wilted (no slimy leaves). Separate beet and turnip greens from their roots before storing. Loosely wrap greens in slightly damp paper towels, then place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Wash just before using.

Bok Choy

A member of the cabbage family, mild and fresh-tasting bok choy is a staple of Asian cuisines. Rich in vitamins A and C and calcium, it cooks up in a flash, making it perfect for stir-fries. Tender baby bok choy—an immature bok choy plant with smaller, spoon-shaped leaves—is delicious raw. Don’t stop at stir-fries, though. Fold these sweet, vitamin C–packed leaves raw into salads, slaws or even chicken noodle soup.

Look for heads with bright green leaves and crisp white stalks with no holes or discolored spots. Bunches with large leaves are good for soups; narrower heads work well in stir-fries.

Trim and discard the thick base of the stalks; discard any discolored or tough leaves. Cut or tear the leaves from the stalks, except for baby bok choy, which can be used whole, halved, or quartered. Wash well.

Use bok choy alone as a colorful side or toss into any stir-fried dish—cook the chopped stalks first, then add the leaves. Bok choy adds a boost of nutrition to soups and holds up well to quick braising; be careful not to overcook it, as the leaves can become mushy. Baby bok choy can be cooked in the same manner or served raw in a salad.

Salmon With Bok Choy and Apple Slaw                                      

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 head bok choy, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 1 red apple, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the bok choy, apple, and scallions with the yogurt, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve with the salmon.

Collard Greens

They’re excellent with ham hocks, as every southerner knows. But this fiber-rich favorite is more versatile than you might think: Try collards sliced raw with avocado and sesame seeds or baked with Gruyère in a creamy gratin.

 

Stir-Fried Shrimp, Rice, and Collard Greens                                                                                     

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound peeled and de-veined large shrimp, tails removed
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups stemmed and sliced collard greens (about 1 bunch) or sliced bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Chili sauce, for serving

Directions:

Cook the rice according to the package directions. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of the soy sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring and tilting the pan, until just set, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold the egg in half and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 1-inch strips.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the shrimp and cook, tossing occasionally, until opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic to the drippings in the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the collard greens and cook, tossing often, until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice, vinegar, shrimp, egg and the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to the skillet and cook, tossing, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the chili sauce.

Tip: To make this a vegetarian dish, substitute one 14-ounce package of extra-firm tofu (drained and cut into 1-inch pieces) for the shrimp.

Spinach

Tied with kale as the most nutritious of all the greens, it delivers more than a dozen flavonoids (anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting compounds) and half the recommended dose of vision-maintaining vitamin A in one 1/2-cup serving. Eat it in the morning in an omelet, for lunch in a salad or a wrap or at dinner as a side dish. The crinkly leaves of savory spinach are more flavorful (though slightly tougher) than the flat-leaf variety. Whichever kind you choose, look for a deep, dark color and unbroken leaves with no signs of wilting or yellowing.

Refrigerate spinach unwashed (moisture speeds decay) and loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. Spinach sold in bunches will last up to 3 days. For washed and packaged spinach, follow the expiration date, no matter how fresh the leaves appear, since bacteria can develop. (Most packaged spinach has a 2-week shelf life.)

Chop off the root ends and any thick stems, then wash the leaves in a bowl of cold water. (They can be sandy, so change the water several times.)

Besides being used in salads and side dishes, spinach can be added to soups to beef up the nutrition. Though it’s known for having lots of iron, spinach must be eaten with tomatoes or citrus in order for that iron to be absorbed properly.

Spinach and White Bean Dip                                                                                

Serves 8 (makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Crostini, for serving

Directions:

 In a small saucepan, heat the oil with the garlic over medium heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes; let cool.

 In a food processor, combine the garlic oil, beans, spinach, dill and lemon juice. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and puree until smooth. Serve with the crostini.

Tip: Try using tender-leaf herbs, like basil or tarragon, along with (or in place of) the dill.

Mustard Greens 

These vitamin A–filled leaves add a spicy jolt (think horseradish) to braises, curries and pasta. Peppery, pungent and popular in the South, mustard greens are packed with calcium and vitamins. Some people find them overly bitter, but cooking tames their flavor. Kale, Swiss chard and spinach all make good substitutes. Refrigerate unwashed (moisture speeds decay) in a tightly sealed bag for up to 1 week.

Remove any thick ribs or stems, which can be tough, then wash the leaves in a bowl of cold water. (They can be sandy, so change the water several times.) If the taste of the greens is too strong, try blanching them in salted water before cooking.

Traditionally flavored with chunks of ham or bacon, they take on a delicious smoky flavor when sauteed. They can also be sauteed with minced garlic or simply steamed or boiled. Small, tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads.

Lentil Stew With Mustard Greens and Sausage                                         

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cups stemmed and torn mustard greens (about 1 bunch) or kale
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the onions and cook, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Add the broth, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Tip: Cooking mustard greens for long periods of time helps tame some of their bitterness. If you like greens with a little bite, reserve half the greens and add them during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Dandelion Greens

These peppery, vitamin K–loaded leaves are best served simply: sauteed with olive oil and garlic or added to a salad in place of arugula.

Dandelion Greens with Currants and Pine Nuts                                                 

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. dandelion greens, ends trimmed, roughly chopped (about 2½ qts.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons each dried currants and toasted pine nuts
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:

 Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds.

Add dandelion greens in batches, turning frequently with tongs. Increase heat to medium-high, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, turning with tongs, until greens are wilted and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Add currants and pine nuts and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with remaining oil. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Kale

Bursting with vitamin C, kale makes an unusual Caesar salad, brightens soups and will even work as a pesto. You can use the two most common varieties—Tuscan kale (also called lacinato or dinosaur) and curly kale—interchangeably. A nutritional powerhouse, kale is also a great source of vitamins A, calcium and cancer-fighting phytonutrients. It has a mild cabbage taste but none of the bitterness of other winter greens. Look for dark green, frilly leaves that have a little spring to them. Avoid those that are yellowing, dry or wilted, a sign of age.

Keep kale unwashed (moisture speeds decay) in a plastic bag in the coldest section of the refrigerator, usually at the back. Because kale contains a lot of water, it doesn’t last long. Use it within 3 days of purchase for the tastiest results. Kale that has been sitting around can develop a strong bitter flavor.

If the center stalks are thicker than a pencil, remove and discard them before cooking. Kale is delicious sauteed with garlic, in soups or prepared any way you’d cook spinach.

Mediterranean Chicken With Kale and Roasted Squash                                            

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large acorn squash (about 2 pounds)—halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 – 6ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Heat oven to 450° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast, turning once, until tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with the coriander, ginger, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. add the chicken to the skillet and cook until cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the kale, prunes and garlic; cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until the kale is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the squash and toss to combine. Serve with the chicken.

Tip: You can substitute collard greens or Swiss chard for the kale and dried cherries or apricots for the prunes.

Turnip Greens 

If you haven’t had this spicy, calcium-packed green, you’re missing out. Delicious sauteed with bacon or braised and sprinkled with toasted nuts. Although the turnip has been grown for more than 4,000 years and was one of the first foods to be cultivated in Europe, it is currently under appreciated: It keeps well, takes to almost any cooking metho, and has a subtle flavor. Look for firm, unblemished specimens with white flesh and a purple-tinged top. Pick the smallest bulbs, ranging in size from that of a golf ball to a tennis ball; any larger and they become coarse in texture and lack flavor. If the greens are attached and you’d like to cook them, make sure they are bright green and crisp.

When stored at the ideal temperature of 55 degrees in a cool, dry place (such as a basement or root cellar), turnips can last for 1 month; they can also be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. If the greens are attached, remove them, leaving an inch or two of stem at the top, and refrigerate them separately, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.

Southern Turnip Greens and Ham Hocks                                                             

 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 pounds ham hocks, rinsed
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 bunches fresh turnip greens with roots (about 10 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Bring ham hocks and 2 quarts water to a boil in an 8-quart Dutch oven. Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove and discard stems and discolored spots from greens. Chop greens, and wash thoroughly; drain. Peel turnip roots and cut in half.

Add greens, roots and sugar to Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 45 to 60 minutes or until greens and roots are tender.

 

Beet Greens 

Thinly slice these strong, potassium-rich leaves and mix them with shredded raw beets for a salad or combine the torn leaves with warm roasted beets. Beets’ jewel-like colors are also packed with vitamin C and folate. Select beets that are firm and not more than a couple of inches in diameter, with smooth, blemish-free dark red or golden yellow skin. (Give the white-fleshed or dramatic striped varieties a try if you find them.) If you want to cook the attached greens (like spinach), make sure they’re bright green.

Before refrigerating, separate the beets from the leaves (which leach moisture from the roots), leaving an inch or two of stem at the top. Store the beets and the leaves, unwashed, in separate bags in the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment. The greens will last for only a few days, but the roots stay fresh for up to 3 weeks.

Beet Greens and Carrots With Sesame Dressing                                                                         

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups stemmed beet greens (about 1 bunch) or spinach
  • 1/2 pound carrots (about 4 medium), thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and fit with a steamer basket; bring the water to a boil. Place the beet greens and carrots in the basket, cover, and steam until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Drizzle the vegetables with the dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Tip: If you cannot find toasted sesame seeds, you can toast them in a large, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Swiss Chard

Need a break from spinach or kale? Substitute chard, a nutritional powerhouse in its own right. Use its slightly sweet stems and leaves in a pasta dish or add depth to a winter soup. The stems need extra cooking time, so chop them up and add them to the pan a few minutes before the leaves. A member of the beet family. chard (a.k.a. Swiss chard) is a Mediterranean favorite with deep red or green leaves and an earthy, slightly bitter taste. Chard is typically classified by the color of its celery-like stalks; red (ruby chard), white, green or multi-color (rainbow chard). Look for crisp stalks and firm, crinkly green leaves without spots or holes. The smaller the leaves, the sweeter their taste. (Large leaves and stems are often chewy.) Refrigerate chard unwashed in the vegetable compartment for up to 3 days.

Small leaves can be cooked with the stalks attached. Remove the stalks from larger leaves; because they can be tough, they need a few minutes’ head start in the cooking pot.

Stir chard into stews and soups, or blanch or saute it like spinach. The stalks can be prepared as you would asparagus. Smaller rainbow chard leaves and their (finely sliced) stalks of brilliant fuchsia, sunny yellow, pink and white are colorful additions to a salad.

Swiss Chard and Chickpea Fritters With Yogurt                                                  

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups stemmed and torn Swiss chard (about 1 bunch) or spinach
  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • hot sauce, for serving

Directions

In a food processor, combine the Swiss chard, chickpeas, garlic, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a large bowl, add the Feta and flour, and mix until combined. Form the mixture into eight 2½-inch patties.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the patties until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet for the second batch. Serve with the yogurt and hot sauce.

Tip: The patties can be formed up to 8 hours in advance; refrigerate, covered.

 

Escarole

It may look like romaine, but this bold and bitter green is 10 times as flavorful. Add it to a hearty stew to cut the richness of the dish. Plus, in just 1/2 cup, you’ll find about 65 percent of your daily recommended bone-healthy vitamin K. Escarole has a slightly bitter bite. Its broad, sturdy leaves are good in salads when young and tender; but tougher, more mature specimens are best tossed into soups and stews. Escarole is a good source of vitamins A and C.

Refrigerate in a loosely closed plastic bag; do not seal tightly, as this can cause the leaves to absorb excess moisture and become soggy. If roots are attached, wrap them in a damp paper towel before placing the lettuce in the bag, discard any leaves that are wilted or slimy. Do not separate the leaves from the head or wash until just before using.

Braised Chicken With Escarole, Tomatoes, and Olives                                           

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 – 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 12 cups torn escarole (about 1 head) or stemmed and torn collard greens
  • 1 – 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

Directions:

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook the chicken until browned, 5 to 6 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Add the onions to the drippings in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the escarole, tomatoes and their juices and 1/2 cup water and mix to combine. Place the chicken on top of the escarole, cover the pot, and transfer to oven.

 Bake, covered, until the escarole is wilted and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover the pot and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes more; fold in the olives.

Tip: For a tangy version of this hearty dish, add 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar along with the olives and raisins.

 

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