American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition


How to cook greens 1

Swiss chard in my garden

Hello all. We are in the middle of summer planting here, and I am looking at my fabulous Swiss chard plants from last year which are still going strong. This green is so easy to grow, looks great in the garden, and produces all year long here in Southern California. Even if you live in a cold place, you’ll get good greens all through the late Spring, Summer and Fall. The tops of beets are also delicious on their own, and of course spinach is always a winner. These tender greens can be eaten raw in a salad, let them sit in the dressing for a little bit to slightly wilt, or you can cook them like this:

Ingredients to serve 2 people:

1 generous Tbs. Olive oil

1 clove of garlic, smashed and peeled

1 pound tender greens, such as spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens and escarole; thick stems removed (if you are using chard, dice the stems and saute them in the oil before adding the greens – they are delightfully crunchy and beautifully hued)

Juice from ½ a lemon

Salt and pepper

  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat
  2. Add garlic, and let it get just golden
  3. Remove garlic clove with a slotted spoon or tongs, discard
  4. Add greens to skillet, toss with tongs to coat with the oil
  5. Saute greens until wilted, when done take off the heat and add lemon juice
  6. Salt and pepper to taste


My favorite additions:

  1. About ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, added to the oil with the garlic (leave them in)
  2. A chopped shallot or small onion, added after you remove the garlic, let it get translucent then add greens
  3. A slice of chopped bacon or pancetta, brown in the oil before adding the garlic

You can also add anything chopped tomatoes, garbanzo or cannellini beans, olives or a tapenade, or chopped nuts.

Cooked greens are delicious on their own, and add body and flavor to soups, stews, whole grains and egg dishes. They are full of vitamins (Bs, C, E, K, folic acid, carotenes) and minerals including iron, potassium and calcium. Not to mention fiber and antioxidants. In fact, they are some of the most potent cancer fighters in the grocery store. All for about 40 calories a cup (cooked).

I can’t go more than a few days without some good dark, leafy greens – you’ll start to love them soon too. Nothing like food that loves you back!

Click here for a pdf printable version of this recipe.



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