Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SPRING GREENS RUN AMOK on the May food coop order

I've just been doing a bit of grocery shopping at the Oklahoma Food Cooperative website for my May order, and all I can say is "wow" at the supply of vegetables this month.    There's a TON of spring greens available.  Well, maybe not an actual ton, but more spring greens (mustard, spinarch, turnip, charp), than I have seen in a long time.

This would be a good time to revisit the cooking of cool season (spring and fall) greens.

Here's some of my classic recipes for greens, from a bobaganda email in November 2007, lightly edited and expanded a bit for the present occasion.

There are many ways to cook greens. The most traditional, southern way is to simmer them slowly with ham hocks or bacon. Arkansas bacon is particularly good for this I think. As the cooking proceeds, a rich vitamin-filled broth results, this is what is called “pot liquor” or “pot likker”. Serve with freshly baked corn bread.

1 cup cooked turnip greens contains: 20 calories, 1.2 g protein, 4.4 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g dietary fiber, 93% water, 550 RE vitamin A, 27 mg vitamin C, 118 mcg folate, 203 mg potassium and 137 mg calcium. 

Traditional method: Use about 1/4 lb of bacon or ham hocks per five pounds or so of greens. Fry bacon until crisp. If you don't have any bacon or ham, use some stock.  Bring water to boil, add salt, minced garlic, some onion, and crushed red pepper. Crumble bacon over greens and add to the liquid. Simmer until done (about an hour), if using ham hocks, simmer until the ham hocks are completely done and falling apart, which would be 3-4 hours. Many people add diced diced turnips to the greens for cooking. Turnip greens in particular need to be cooked longer than some of the more tender greens like spinach (cooks quickly), chard, beet greens, or mustard greens.  For extra flavor, add a bit of "Liquid Smoke" and some Worcestershire sauce.
Freezing greens:  Cooked greens freeze just fine. While they are available, buy lots, cook and freeze for eating later!

Cream of Greens Soup
If you have someone in your family who thinks they don't like greens, serve this.

1 lb ham slice, with bone
8 cups water
1 large bunch of greens, washed and finely chopped
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped green onions
1/4 and 1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
5 cups milk

Place the water and ham in a pot, cover, and simmer for 3 hours. Remove ham, add the chopped greens, simmer for 1 hour. (If you are making this with turnip greens, add them at the beginning of the cooking. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet, and the chopped onion, celery, and green onions, cook until tender. Put the cooked onion mixture in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth, mix with the greens. Melt 1/3 cup butter in a cooking pot, gradually add the flour and stir to make a roux. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Then add the greens and onion mixture, a dash of salt and hot sauce. Add the ham cut into chunks. Cook until thoroughly heated, do not boil. Makes about 10 cups. 

Other ideas:

  • Add cooked greens to a quiche.  OK, we're in Oklahoma, so call it a greens, egg and cheese pie.  Local cheese, local eggs, local greens.
  • Drain cooked greens, make a sauce of 1 cup yogurt, ground cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, combine with drained greens, serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • Beans and Greens -- cooked white beans plus cooked greens are a delectable delight.  Add some crushed red pepper, garlic, and onion to boost the flavors to new heights of taste.


  1. Welcome to Blogger, Bob! And thanks for the help with the greens. We've got spinach and chard going crazy in the garden. You're right on time. ~Liz

  2. I grew up in Southern California and didn't have any experience with greens. I have some kale in my refrigerator right now and am wondering if it can be used in the Cream of Greens soup recipe. My husband detests anything bitter so I'm looking for ways to cook greens to eliminate that.