How To Prepare Leafy Greens

How To Prepare Leafy Greens

Go Green: The Ins and Outs of Green Leafy Vegetables

The term greens refers to a variety of leafy green vegetables that can be served raw or cooked. Salad greens vary greatly in size, shape, color, and flavor. Some are sold as heads and some as individual leaves. Flavor and color often go together--mild, sweet, pale colored butter and romaine lettuce and spicy, bitter dark green watercress and arugula. Mild flavored greens are relatively neutral and pair well with just about any ingredients. Bitter and spicy greens lend themselves well to more intense flavors such as sweet fruit and ingredients higher in fat like cheese or bacon. Dark, leafy greens are extremely nutritious and very high in many vitamins and minerals.

Know Your Greens

Cooking greens are frequently used in the Asian and Mediterranean cuisines and are an important part of regional cuisine in the southern United States. Many, such as cabbage, mustard greens, dandelion greens, kale, and collard greens have strong or spicy flavors and some like escarole, chard, and spinach are a bit less intense.

All greens have a high water content and shrink in size, often by more than half, when cooked. For this reason, you must purchase a large quantity of greens to end up with a proper portion. The quantity of uncooked greens is deceiving and it is crucial to consider what the cooked portion will look like when adding oil or seasonings, otherwise you may end up with a very oily or over-seasoned dish. Some greens like spinach cook almost instantly and are best done so over high heat. Other greens, particularly those that have tougher leaves and stems, take substantially longer to cook and should be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.

Choose the Perfect Green

When purchasing greens either to be eaten raw or cooked, it is best to choose those that are young and tender and are brightly colored and not wilted. You should avoid greens with dry, split stems, yellow or brown leaves, and those that are very wet or have rotted, mushy spots on them. Most greens are available fresh year round. Most greens are best eaten as close to purchase as possible and are best stored in a perforated bag in the refrigerator. Greens are mostly made up of water and tend to go bad within a few days of purchase.

About the Author

After receiving degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the Culinary Institute of America, Andrea Rappaport moved into a full-time career in the restaurant business. For over 12 years, she worked in various culinary jobs, including as a cook for Wolfgang Puck at Spago, and ultimately as the executive chef and partner of the highly revered San Francisco restaurant Zinzino. For the past seven years, Andrea has worked as the private chef for one family in the San Francisco area, and continues to expand her culinary portfolio by catering, teaching, and consulting.

Featured Culinary Schools

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses