Source epicurious, A Visual Guide to Cooking Greens
Unlike the more delicately flavored and smaller-sized salad greens, this group of greens are hardy (in general, they tolerate colder weather better). In spite of all their differences in texture and taste, they are often interchangeable.
Most recipes call for some cooking to reduce bitterness, as well as to soften the leaves and stems to make them more palatable. Wilted, blanched, sautéed, braised, or even puréed, these greens add great balance and depth to any dish and pair especially well with garlic, lemon, and olive oil.
- Kohlrabi. This vegetable—reminiscent in shape of a hot-air balloon— is usually found in the marketplace with the stem and leaves still attached to the bulb. The bulb can be eaten raw or cooked, but the leaves do need to be cooked before serving. The easiest method to prepare the leaves is to separate and discard the ribs and then sauté the leaves in olive oil and garlic. The bulb has been incorporated into cuisines around the world, from India to Germany, but it is primarily in the southern part of the United States that the leaves are consumed, usually prepared in a manner similar to collard greens.
- Bokl Choy. Chinese cuisine has made this cabbagelike vegetable popular. Bok choy has a tender and mild flavor, especially the immature baby bok choy, shown on the left. Part of baby bok choy’s appeal is that you can cook the small vegetable whole, without breaking its leaves apart, thus adding a beautiful visual element to a dish. When cooking larger, more mature bok choy, cut the leaves from the stem and cook the stems first, since they will require a slightly longer cooking time.
- Spinach. Though originally from Persia, this is one of the most common greens around and can be eaten both raw and cooked. Baby spinach, pictured on the right, is ideal in salads because it is so delicate and has a milder, less bitter taste than other greens. If you plan to cook spinach, purchase more than you think you’ll need, since cooking reduces its volume drastically. Unlike the other cooking greens in this guide, spinach is good for mixing with other foods—its flavor isn’t overpowering, and its delicate nature requires little preparation and a shorter cooking time, making it ideal for use in omelets.
- Chard. This vegetable makes a bold statement with its large, thick, dark leaves and colored veins and stalks. The leaves taste somewhat like a more intense spinach, although the texture of chard leaves is nowhere near as smooth—or as soft. Don’t discard the stalks: They have a mellow flavor. The stems and the greens are best prepared separately to prevent the leaves from getting overcooked.
- Collards Greens. A member of the cabbage family and closely related to kale, collard greens are often associated with Southern cooking in the United States. Typically they are cooked along with ham, pork, and various vegetables, as well as with other greens, such as kale. Collards have Mediterranean origins and pop up in plenty of cuisines.
- Kale. Kale, another form of cabbage, has leaves that look like they’re a mix between collard and mustard greens. As with many other dark leafy greens, kale tastes slightly bitter when eaten raw, but unlike some of its relatives, cooked kale won’t lose its general shape or texture, nor will its volume reduce dramatically. For whatever reason, many cuisines pair kale with potatoes, as in recipes from Ireland.