How to make leafy greens irresistable

Collard greens

Acclaimed cookbook author and blogger Dana Jacobi combines healthy ingredients with creative twists. She is the award-winning author of fifteen cookbooks. When Williams-Sonoma wanted to feature healthy cooking, they asked her to write or co-author six books!  She has also written for publications, including O: The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, and The New York Times, and for 19 years, she wrote the Something Different column which the American Institute for Cancer Research syndicated to 750 US newspapers. In addition to her personal blog at, she writes a monthly newsletter with recipes. She lives in New York City, where she teaches cooking and is a private chef. Dana has just released The Power Greens Cookbook, an exploration of fifteen nutrition-packed greens from arugula to watercress.(Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of this book.) To show how she makes dark leafy greens irresistible, Dana has provided an excerpt from the first chapter of her book.

I was lucky because my mother was a foodie and a health nut, a good cook and a great teacher. I grew up eating gourmet salads spiked with watercress, green cabbage topped with melted cheese, and fresh kale sautéed in butter. (Back then butter was considered the healthy fat.) I was in my twenties before I realized that my love of kale, cabbage, and other strong-tasting greens was unusual.

Every week, my mother taught me something new about cooking.  She showed me how to choose a good head of romaine lettuce because iceberg was "empty food." An Italian neighbor helped us cook broccoli rabe grown in her brother's garden. From Chinatown, we brought home greens we did not even have names for and tried them steamed or in a stir-fry.

Now, shoppers I chat with at farmers' markets want the benefits of eating dark leafy greens but tell me about issues they have about them. Do you share some of them? What can you do about it?

Taste - Kale, broccoli rabe and other dark greens taste bitter. As humans, we are biologically wired to like sweetness. And while other cultures accept and even embrace bitter foods, many Americans resist them.

Texture - Many dark greens are tough. Even romaine takes more chewing than other lettuces. And rather than making kale, collards, chard, and other greens pleasantly tender, a lot of recipes undercook them, leaving them too chewy.

Time - Many kinds of dark greens take time to prepare. Even buying them already chopped, cooking until they are nicely tender takes too long, especially on weeknights.

Technique - How much to buy and how to store greens to stay fresh, as well as the easiest way to strip those with tough stems challenge many cooks.  

The Power Greens Cookbook includes a primer on how to select, store, and prep fifteen kinds of dark greens in addition to sharing 140 recipes that make them irresistible to even the most reluctant family member.

Experimenting with every possible way to prepare to reduce bitterness and cook nicely textured greens in less time, I created Short Cook - Quick Cool, a technique that does wonders. I use it for kale, collards, chard, broccoli rabe, and mustard greens. It cuts 20 minutes from braising kale and broccoli rabe, making Italian Braised Greens with Roasted Garlic, Collard Greens Cacciatore, Indian Greens with Lemon Dal, and your own favorite recipes ready faster.  


Boil 4 to 8 cups of water in a large saucepan. Add stripped or stemmed greens and use a wooden spoon to push them until they collapse into the water. Cover and cook the greens for 2 to 4 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander and swish them under cold running water to chill them, which takes 30 seconds. Greens not used immediately can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 3 days.

Adapted from The Power Greens Cookbook, copyright 2016, by Dana Jacobi, Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

1 Comment

  • Isis  on  9/17/2016 at 7:26 PM

    I'd like more ideas for Swiss Chard

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