Cooking With Leafy Greens

Meet the antioxidant-rich leaf brigade—kale, mustard greens, dandelions and more. MOIRA HODGSON creates unfussy recipes that defeat the bitterness and bring out the best in these tangy vegetables

By Moira Hodgson
LEAVES RULE ~ Mirin, tamari sauce and lemon juice dress up this braised–bok choy dish.
Photograph: Anna Williams


Lesser-used edible greens such as nasturtium and sorrel mix well with the familiar in this dish. The bold dressing stands up to the leaves’ assertiveness and the avocados’ richness.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 side dishes

5 ounces young mixed greens (beet greens, turnip greens, arugula, kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, sorrel, watercress, nasturtium leaves)
1 navel orange
4 scallions, sliced thin on the bias, with a small amount of the green part1 clove garlic, chopped
Coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 ripe avocados
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

1. Wash the greens, tearing the leaves into same-size pieces (keep smaller leaves whole). Dry in a salad spinner, and place in a large serving bowl.
2. With a sharp knife, cut a slice from the top and bottom of the orange. Peel away the skin, and pare the white pith. Cut into segments, slicing between the connective membrane. Cut the segments into thirds, and add them to the bowl with the greens. Add the scallions.
3. Make the dressing: Place the chopped garlic in the bowl of a mortar, and sprinkle it with sea salt. Grind it to a paste with the pestle. Mix in the mustard, lemon juice and soy sauce. Gradually add the olive and sesame oils, stirring constantly until you have an emulsion. Season to taste with pepper, and add more lemon juice if needed.
4. Peel, pit and slice the avocados. Cut the slices into thirds, and add them to the bowl of greens. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, pour on the dressing, and toss the vegetables.


Quinoa is a high-protein grain that gets light and fluffy when cooked. It acts as a mild foil for the peppery mustard greens.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Makes 4 side or 2 main dishes

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil for the peppers
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch mustard greens
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1. Heat a grill or broiler. Cut the peppers into quarters (they char more evenly this way than when they are laid out whole); remove the stems and seeds. Char them skin side to the flame, about 10 minutes. Put them in a paper bag to cool and soften, then peel off the skins (it doesn’t matter if there are charred bits of skin left on; they will add flavor). Cut the peppers into slices, toss them in the extra-virgin olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Set aside (they can be prepared 3 days ahead of time).
2. Bring the quinoa to a boil in 2 cups salted water; cover, and simmer over low heat until soft (about 15 minutes).
3. While the quinoa is cooking, tear the mustard-green leaves off the stems, and cut them into wide strips. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet, and add the shallots, garlic, mustard greens and red pepper flakes. Stir-fry for a minute, then add ½ cup water. Cook until tender and dry, adding a
little more water if needed (about
10 minutes). Stir in the bell peppers and thyme, and mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Fluff the quinoa, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve it in a shallow bowl with the greens and peppers spread over the top.


Collards are normally cooked for a long time with bacon or ham hocks. In this recipe, they are blanched, sautéed and topped with a little crumbled pan-cetta, the unsmoked Italian bacon that is cured with salt and spices.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 side dishes

First Published August 22, 2011

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