By Liza Barnes, for SparkPeople
Greens are versatile when it comes to cooking. You can heat them as a side dish, add them to soups, chop them to fill calzones or lasagna, and eat them raw in salads. Although greens can be delicious when they're properly prepared, most people who don't know how to do that, and wind up with a slimy, wilted pile of vegetable mush on their plates.
So here's a quick introduction to cooking and enjoying some of the most common greens.
There are two types of chard, green and red, which are distinguished by the color of their stalks. Sometimes you'll find them packaged together and marketed as "rainbow" chard. Look for hearty, perky, crinkled, dark-green leaves, attached to upright stalks. If the stalks are large, they should be cooked separately from the leaves, which cook much more quickly. Try cutting the stalks into 3-inch lengths and sautéing in olive oil until almost tender, adding salt and pepper to taste. Just as the stalks are almost done, add the leaves (sliced or torn) to the pan and cook just a few minutes more, until the leaves are wilted and the stalks are tender. Try these recipes that contain Swiss chard:
Similar to chard, bok choy is made up of large leaves and succulent stalks. The stalks cook pretty quickly compared to other greens, so the leaves and stalks can be cooked together. Try adding chopped bok choy to a stir-fry, or sauté in olive oil and minced fresh garlic until tender. Try these recipes with bok choy:
These big, flat, matte leaves take much longer to cook than other greens, and if they aren't fresh, they can be very bitter. Raw collards are almost always bitter. The stems and tough ribs aren't edible, so the leaves must be torn or cut away. Try boiling them for 10 minutes, and then braising them in garlic butter and some of their cooking water, covered, for 30 minutes, salting to taste. Try these recipes for collard greens: