If you think you hate cooked greens, this column is for you. Like many other foods, with greens it’s all in the seasonings. Maybe you just have never had greens seasoned well. You can cook greens with seasonings to suit YOUR unique taste preferences and enjoy the deliciousness and nutritional benefits of greens.
Cooked greens are a staple of my diet. I like to buy greens frozen and chopped, ready to go into the slow cooker all day or all night. They come out VERY tender and completely infused with the seasonings tailored to my taste.
I’ve taken a slow cooker of collard greens to many pot luck gatherings. Black friends and co-workers have said they didn’t know white people could cook greens as good as mine. I took it as a compliment.
Everything I’m writing here can apply to any greens – whether collards, turnip greens, kale, spinach or mustard. I prefer collards or kale with about one fourth spinach added. Adding a small amount of spinach to a pot of cooked greens of any kind kicks up the nutritional value.
Start by putting your frozen or fresh greens in a large crock pot or a large pot on the stove top and cover with water or broth. The most basic seasonings include salt, onions, and garlic – all measured to taste. Then add additional seasonings. Consider these options –
Add a cup of fat free, low-fat or full fat Italian salad dressing. More kick!
Add any of the following: jalapenos, a can of tomatoes and green chili, and/or other hot stuff. More kick! Or allow everyone to add the hot stuff when individual servings are dished up.
Many people add bacon, ham, or smoked turkey to their greens. For various reasons I minimize my consumption of animal products. I love greens without meat.
Some people add small amounts of sugar. I say absolutely not, but if that’s the only way you will eat your greens, better to eat greens with a little bit of sugar than no greens at all.
Every cook can experiment with combinations of seasonings until you find what suits you. Add seasonings to the greens, cover, and cook at a low simmer until tender, usually several hours.
THEN consider this – by adding about a half cup of brown rice and/or a half-cup of lentils, you can boost the nutritional value of greens tremendously. Adding the rice and lentils does not change the taste, but adds complete protein. Kicky!
Be sure there are three cups of liquid in the pot for every cup of grain and lentils you add. Be sure your pot is covered with a close-fitting lid. Allow at least one additional hour for cooking after adding the grain and legumes.
When the rice and lentils are tender, you have a casserole that is super-charged with nutrition and tastes great! A serving of this with a piece of cornbread is a satisfying meal. Shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream or ranch dressing make good additions.
If you try any of my suggestions, write and let me know your results. If you have a favorite way to cook greens, write and let me know your recipe. Email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you!