Easy Greens

By Joan Haynes, NMD

Quick Boiling is a quick way to cook greens, with the added benefit of maximum nutrient conservation. Save the water and add to a broth for soup or cool it and feed it to your plants.

Vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, and even protein are a part of most dark leafy greens. These powerful vegetables should be a daily part of the diet. Cooked greens can be used in a variety of interesting dishes – soups, salads, casseroles, and more.

Pick Your Greens

Choose 2 cups of fresh greens, in any combination, per person.
2 cups fresh greens will cook down to approximately ½ cup.


  • Beet greens
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Chinese cabbage (napa)
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress
  • Optional: lemon juice or vinegar (balsamic is nice)

Chop and Wash

For greens with tough stems, such as collards, kale or chard, cut the leaves away from the stem before washing. Wash greens carefully. An easy way to do this is to fill your sink or large bowl with cold water and submerge the greens. If the water has sediment, drain and repeat.


Cooking – Timing is everything

Bring 1 – 2 quarts of water to a boil. Submerge greens. Boil tender young greens (such as watercress or escarole) for about 30 seconds. Tougher leaves (such as mature collards or kale) need to be cooked for 5-10 minutes. Timing is everything. If you remove the greens too soon they will be bitter. If you let them cook too long they will lose nutrients and have a flat taste.
Remove a piece and test every minute or so. You are looking for a slightly wilted leaf that still has a bright green color and (most important) a succulent, sweet flavor. Pour cooked greens into a colander in the sink. Let cool. Squeeze out excess water with your hands. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Serve with a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper.


Preparation time: 10 minutes