In Season: Greens

The cold winter is the perfect time to start cooking greens

Try some of these favorite recipes using fresh greens.

There are few meals more comforting in the winter than a simple bowl of sautéed greens, brown rice, and maybe a small piece of fish or chicken. Mustard is my favorite variety of green by far, but I’m not picky in the winter — any cooking green will make for a satisfying (and light, particularly after Thanksgiving) meal. As we progress into winter, cooking greens are a vegetable that actually improves in eating quality; greens grow slower and the cool weather gives them a deeper color and sweeter, more robust flavor.

Click here to see the In Season: Greens (Slideshow)

Cooking green varieties can vary depending on where you live but here are some of the more common varieties:

  • Swiss Chard: Red, green, and rainbow Swiss chard is similar in texture to spinach and has a mild pleasant flavor.
  • Mustard: Generally considered the strongest "flavored," mustards have a sharp "peppery" flavor but there are several varieties of Asian mustard (like mizuna) that are milder.
  • Collard: An extremely popular green in the South, collards have broad, flat leaves and a bold, distinctive flavor.
  • Dandelion: Available in both red and green varieties.
  • Kale: The most common variety is curly green kale but there is also a Red Russian and narrow leaf Lacinato.

You can steam, sauté, braze, roast, or slow cook greens; or eat them raw for maximum nutritional value. My favorite method is a simple sauté:

One bunch of your favorite greens: rinse thoroughly and remove the large stems. Tear leaves into small, bite size pieces. In a large skillet heat a tablespoon of olive or peanut oil over medium-high heat (I also add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil for flavor sometimes). Add greens and sauté until you reach a desired degree of doneness — I add a dash of soy sauce at the end right before serving. I like mine only slightly sautéed, so 8 to 10 minutes is good for me but cooking time can vary depending on the density of the leaf. I also add some fresh grated ginger at the end for a little extra zip.

It may be a little silly to get romantic about a vegetable but a bowl of greens, in a comfortable chair in a warm room, looking outside at the wind blowing the last leaves off the trees, is one of the best ways to steal a few quiet moments during the mad crush of the holidays — very satisfying for the body and soul.


—    James Parker, global associate perishables coordinator for Whole Foods Market