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Leafy Greens

Includes: kale, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, stinging nettles, bok choi, tat soi, napa cabbage, arugula, chicory, collards, dandelion greens and watercress as well as the more familiar lettuce.


Nutritional information:

Green vegetable are the most nutritious of all foods, and are typically high in calcium, vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, many of the B vitamins, and iron.  Greens are low in calories, sodium, and fat but high in fiber.  They are abundant in calcium to the extent that they can be eaten as the primary source of this much needed mineral.


The most nutritious greens are arugula, chicory, collards, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens and watercress.  Most lettuces are relatively low in nutritional value by comparison to these greens.  Generally, the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it is.


Storage information

Do NOT wash your greens until you are ready to use them.  Store them in a plastic container or bag in your refrigerator, as you would lettuce.  To preserve freshness and avoid plastic, try wrapping in wet paper towel or reuseable cloth produce bag.  Best kept in the crisper (refrigerator drawer).  If leaves start to wilt, soak in cold water to rehydrate. One CSA member puts lettuce in a plastic bag, compresses it to squeeze all the air out and swears it keeps longest that way. 


Greens are most nutritious if used within a few days of picking although they do keep well for a week or so refrigerated.  Wash leaves submerging in cold water before using them.  These vegetables tend to retain grit from the ground they were grown in and some may require two or three washings.


Simple From Scratch:

1) Chop and steam.  Can flavor with vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.  Can add to a casserole or pasta dish.


2) sauté garlic in oil, add chopped greens and cover to cook over a low heat.  Can add salt and pepper (or cayenne pepper).  Optional:  stir in a tbs. of vinegar or lemon juice after cooking.  Many recipes suggest steaming (until almost tender—not fully cooked) or blanching greens in water (1 min.) before sautéing. 


Or try chopping, simmer in heavy skillet with little water up to 15 minutes.  Dress with: tahini, lemon juice, soy sauce, and raisins.


3) Blanch the greens unchopped in boiling water for 1 min.  Drain and refresh in a bowl of ice water.  When cool, squeeze out water.  Chop finely. Heat oil, fry a tbp. of sesame seeds until golden.  Stir in chopped greens and toss 1-2 min. Season with salt and cayenne.  Serve hot, sprinkled with a few tbp of orange juice.  Try this with swiss chard or a mixture of collards and spinach (from: Yamuna’s Table cookbook)


4) Heat ¼ cup flavored vinegar and garlic in saucepan. Add (1 lb.) greens.  Cook until wilted.  Add ¼ water, cover and cook gently 2 min., adding more water if necessary to keep from sticking.  Uncover, cook until water is gone.  Season with a pinch of cayenne and a tbp. of sesame seeds. (An African-American tradition from the American South, Vegetarian Times magazine).


5) Sopa Sobrino – This is a soup made from whatever you have in the kitchen.  One good combination is chopped greens, quartered or chopped potatoes (with skin), sliced leek or onion covered with water.  Add any or all of the following: 1 or 2 sliced carrots, 3 or 4 chopped stalks of celery, chopped tomatoes, small amount of cooked beans…Bring to a low boil a simmer until done, about half and hour or so.  Add salt and pepper or soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos for taste.


Can substitute rice or pasta for the potatoes but if this is already cooked be sure to add it at the end when the vegetables are almost done.


6) To get the most nutrition from your greens, juice a leaf or two (raw of course) with carrot and apple in your juicer.




Bright Green Soup or
"How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Greens"

Adapted from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" From CSA Member Nessa


I love greens, really. But I found the volume last week to be a bit alarming. Here's what helped (my daughter loved it!):


2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly
3 carrots or 1 big parsnip (or two medium), peeled and sliced thinly
ALL of the ribs and stems from your chard, kale and spinach, chopped
(1 tablespoon or more fresh basil chopped, plus other herbs you have
Equivalent of a huge bunch of greens. I used ½ the spinach, all the chard, and all the kale roughly chopped
1 cup of peas (frozen are fine)
1/3 cup cream, buttermilk, or crème fraiche (optional)
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper


Cut up all your vegetables. Heat the oil in a big soup pot. When it is hot, add the onions, scallions, carrot/parsnip, stems and ribs of the greens, basil and other herbs and and stir. Add 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of salt and cover. Let stew for 5 minutes.


Add about 5 cups of water and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes with the top off.


Add the greens and peas and cook just until the greens are bright, about 3 minutes. Push them down in to the water with a spoon. Take the pot off the heat and blend the soup in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth.


Stir in the dairy if you're using it. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste 1/2 teaspoon at a time to brighten the flavor of the soup. Serve hot.

The soup is very low fat so you can add on a minor indulgence of your choice on the side. CSA bread and cheese perhaps?


*Leftover can be used as a base for legume dishes.  Just add soaked legumes to the leftover soup, adding water if needed, and simmer until legumes are tender.*- From CSA Member Juli L.


Green Smoothies- CSA Member Susan N.

I have been making green smoothies about a year now and love what is happening to my total health, from regulating my appetite to exceptional vitality and energy to the complements on how young I look.  And I think its from these smoothies I make first thing in am:

Basically just mix in any green with some water or and some soaked almond or other raw nuts and blend it. I usually include celery and cucumber to make it more tasty and refreshing and usually I have some germinated seeds as well to add to my concoction. 


Creamed Greens- From CSA Member Jen S.

Watercress Soup - kind of like a green vichyssoise

A word of caution: remove any tough stems from greens or they will create a big headache on the blender blade (i tried to cheat just a little and wound up picking threads off the blades...unplugged, of course).


1/4 lb watercress, stemmed and chopped
1/4 lb mustard greens, stemmed and chopped
1/2 lb spinach, stemmed and chopped
large chopped onion
2 tbls olive oil
one or two potatoes, depending how thick you want it
about 2 cups milk (or cream, half and half, etc)
about 2 cups broth
s&p to taste


Just thought i'd share approximate guide for soup made with all the recent greens. I used the watercress, which was about a 1/4 pound, and about an equal amount of the mustard greens, and more spinach. You could probably play around with the greens. I used mustard because they're spicy like watercress, and because we had some left over from the CSA.  Saute a large chopped onion in olive oil with chopped potato til soft and golden. add greens and saute briefly. add liquids and cook til all tender.  Blend using immersion blender or in batches in the regular blender. add salt and pepper to taste.  We ate it hot, but you could probably eat it cold, too. One recipe I read recommended a dollop of cream or sour cream, and i bet some chives would be nice too.


Creamed Greens II- From CSA Member Karine

I often make "creamed" greens, I chop up (~1 " around) whatever I get from the CSA and mix all the greens together then place them in oil/butter (sometimes garlic) combination and add some salt and stir fry until the juices are almost gone. Then I add some cream and cook them down until they are nice and soft then serve as a side dish or place in a pizza instead of red sauce.


 Winter Greens and Potatoes

1 lb. mixed greens (mustard, collard, kale, escarole)

2 medium size potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, quartered and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. virgin olive oil

1-2 small dried chili peppers, seeds removed, torn into pieces

2  medium sized fresh tomatoes, chopped; or 1 16 oz. can drained and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper


Remove any leaves from greens that are yellow or wilted and remove any tough fibrous stems.  Chop the leaves, rinse them well and set aside.  Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, for 5-7 minutes.   Remove with a slotted spoon.  Add greens to hot potato water and boil 2-3 minutes until tender.  Drain.


Warm olive oil over medium heat in a wide, nonstick skillet and add chilis or red pepper flakes.  When the oil is hot, add potatoes, stir to coat them well and cook for one minute.  Add greens, tomatoes and garlic.  Continue cooking for another five minutes or so, breaking up the potatoes with a wooden spoon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Makes a kind of hash.  Can also use beet greens, turnip tops, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, spinach or chard but may need to use a shorter cooking time with more tender greens.  Serves 4


Fun food facts:


Chinese Cabbages:

Bok choy is a delicate leaf-stalk vegetable that is cultivated mainly in China, Korea, Japan, and the US. Bok choi does not form a closed head, and resembles Swiss Chard in appearance and taste. It is a white-stalked cabbage with dark green leaves; and, because it does not travel well, it is seldom exported by the Asian countries, where it is widely grown. It is now cultivated on an increasing scale in the West. Its nutritional value is twice that of white cabbage, with the leaf-ribs being the highest in nutrients. It is delicious eaten raw, steamed, or stir-fried; but is unsuitable for dishes requiring a long cooking time.

Chinese cabbage is the name used for both this type and bok choy. Choy sum is also known as flowering bok choy and flowering white cabbage. For all the confusing names, Chinese cabbage really is Chinese, and it really is a cabbage. It originated in China with the earliest date, having been discovered of around the 5th century CE. No wild cabbage has ever been found. It is probably a cross which occurred naturally in cultivation, likely between the southern pak choy and the norther turnip. Contemporary varieties are primarily Japanese hybrids, although the vegetable did not reach Japan until the 1860s; and breeding did not begin until the 1920s. Choy sum has green oval leaves and small yellow flowers that blossom between the broad oval leaves. Either the shoot tips with the edible flowers are harvested or the entire plant is picked. Both are prepared in a similar fashion to broccoli.

Tatsoi is a pretty plant with an unsightly nickname of "flat cabbage". It is a variety which grows only a couple of inches high, but whose rosettes grow in the shape of a plate that can spread over an area up to a foot or more in diameter. It is able to withstand frost so flourishes in the region of Shanghai. The leaves are rounded, and the leaf stalks are green and celery-like. Like other bok choys, it is harvested in many sizes. It is tougher and stronger tasting than other bok choy, but cooking mellows this. The young plants with small leaves surrounding the central rosette are best and is considered to have an exceptionally good flavor.

What are dark green leafy vegetables?

Dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. They also are great sources of fiber. The darker leaves have even more of these important nutrients. Some common dark green leafy vegetables are:

Swiss Chard, which tastes similar to spinach, is rich in vitamins K, C, and calcium. Swiss chard is best eaten raw in salads, or stir-fried.


Chicory, which has a slightly bitter flavor, is rich in vitamins K, C, and calcium. Chicory is best eaten with other greens in salad, or in soups and pasta sauces.

Collard Greens, which has an earthy spinachy flavor, is rich in vitamin A and calcium. Collard greens are best if you boil briefly and then add to soups or stir-fry.
Arugula, which has a peppery taste, is rich in vitamins A, C, and calcium. Arugula is best eaten raw in salads, or in stir-fry, soups, and pasta sauces.
Dandelion Greens, which has a bitter tangy flavor, is rich in vitamin A and calcium. Dandelion greens are best eaten raw in salads or steamed.
Kale, which has a slightly bitter cabbage-like flavor, is rich in vitamin A, C, calcium, folic acid, and potassium. Kale is best eaten in soups, stir-fry and sauces.


Mustard Greens, which has a hot spicy flavor, is rich in vitamin A, C and calcium. Mustard greens are best eaten raw in salads, or in stir-fry and soups.

Spinach, which has an earthy sweet flavor, is rich in vitamin A, C, iron and calcium. Spinach is best eaten raw in salads or steamed.
Different leafy green vegetables provide different amounts of nutrients. Here is a chart with the amount of calcium, fiber, and iron in a 1/2 cup serving of each chopped raw green: 





Swiss Chard

9.2 mg

0.3 g

0.3 mg


90 mg

3.6 g

0.8 mg

Collard Greens

26 mg

0.7 g

0.1 mg


16 mg

0.2 g

0.2 mg

Dandelion Greens

51 mg

1.0 g

0.9 mg


45 mg

0.7 g

0.6 mg

Mustard Greens

29 mg

0.9 g

0.4 mg


15 mg

0.4 g

0.4 mg