Beans & Greens Step Two: Make the Greens

by Chance on December 16, 2015

Beans and Greens with Mizithra Cheese Beans and Greens with Mizithra Cheese

Cheating a little here by using the same picture, but I think you’ll understand. All of us know we should eat greens. They’re good for us and if prepared well, very tasty. I’ve been a big spinach eater for years: spinach salad, sautéed spinach, spinach smoothies, spanakopita… I haven’t met much spinach I haven’t liked. Then came kale. Sautéed kale, kale chips, marinated kale salad, kale smoothies (not really, but some people do). I don’t even care that kale is now considered passé. I still love it. In fact, the easiest way to get my family to eat some green is by making kale chips. Three bunches of kale in one gulp. I also love collard greens, or collards as we usually abbreviate here in Georgia. I always make them for New Year’s Day and often make them as a sautéed side, as I will here. Collards can also be used to make sushi (using blanched leaves instead of nori) or for dolmades (in place of the grape leaves). For many years I slow simmered them with onions or made a collard green soup. My mom came up with a recipe for garlicky collards with tamari and that was delicious too (Can you tell cooking is something we have in common?), but this is the simplest way to prepare them and the one I now enjoy the most. Contrary to what our Southern tradition would have us believe, collards, especially young organic ones, do not require a long slow cooking to a dark green color and a smooshy texture. This cooking method is a sauté with a tiny bit of liquid. It results in well cooked collards that are bright green instead of army green and still have a fresh flavor.

For best results, I do buy organic collards and I get the smallest ones they have because they are the youngest. If I buy conventional collards, I still look for the smallest ones because they will be the most tender. I used to “stem” my collards by cutting out the rib or thick middle part, but if I have small-ish ones, I don’t bother to do this. The ribs cook well this way and it adds a little texture to the greens.
First put a wide saucepan on the stove with a few Tablespoons of oil in it. If you can have butter, it gives great flavor. If not, I use a light oil for this (not coconut oil). Peel 1-2 onions and then chop them. It can be a coarse chop because the onions will cook down. I cut my onion from sprout to root and then cut slivers. Put the pan over medium high heat and start to cook the onion while you cut up the collards.
IMG_0709 Wash your greens well. They are grown in sandy soil and one grain of sand will ruin the greens for whoever gets it. Don’t dry the greens, just set them to the side on a dishtowel. once they are all cleaned, stack them up neatly. Starting from one long side, roll them all together tightly. Using a large knife, start cutting the collards starting at the tips and holding onto the stems. In the picture below, the slices were a little larger than I wanted. It should be closer to a chiffonade (very thin slices) but not quite all the way.
I made it a little smaller and this looks better.
You will have some jagged edges left on your stems. Pull the green off that is left and chop it up. Or, feed it to your chickens. They deserve greens too!
Once all the greens are chopped, add them to the pan on top of the onions. I do not stir them at this point, but rather leave the greens to start cooking while the onion is still on direct heat. After 3-4-5 minutes, I stir it all together and add salt to taste. Don’t be afraid to salt the greens because greens need salt to not taste bland. This is what it looks like after it’s cooked for a few minutes. The greens are wilting.
When things go perfectly, there is just the right amount of moisture on the greens that I don’t need to add anything. The other 364 days a year, I may add a splash of water to keep them from sticking. As they cook, taste the greens and take them off the heat when they are the right texture for you. An extra Tablespoon of butter added at the end is delicious (But I don’t ever add vegetable oil at the end. No flavor.). When the greens are finished, they will have shrunk dramatically, which I have emphasized for you in this last picture by pulling them all to the side. That’s two bunches of collards!
These are great as a veggie side with anything or part of a vegetable plate. When I served them with chickpeas this week, I grated a little mizithra (Greek sheep’s milk) cheese on top and it was delicious!
Note: You can use other greens in this recipe. Collards are probably my favorite, but my daughter’s favorite is chard and I also like… kale.

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Beans & Greens Step Two: Make the Greens
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Veggie Side
  • 1-2 onions (I like shallots with chard)
  • 2-3 bunches of fresh greens (collards, kale, chard)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter or light vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Put butter or oil in pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Slice the onion into crescents and add to the pan.
  3. Prepare greens by washing well.
  4. Roll up and chop into small strips - not quite a chiffonade but not a rough chop.
  5. Once all the greens are cut, add them to the pan.
  6. Let them cook for 3-4-5 minutes without stirring.
  7. Sprinkle with salt.
  8. After 5 minutes, stir the onions and greens together.
  9. If the greens seem to be sticking, add a little water.
  10. Continue to cook until they are done to your liking.
  11. Check for salt.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Samantha Claar December 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Better than any greens I ever cooked! When I get old can I come live with you and eat your cooking ALL the time!
These are so delicate compared to traditional prep..
I am thrilled that you are making time to share with all of us again. Really missed getting the recipes and the tips for success..


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