So many people I have told me, I don’t like greens. My typical response is, you probably haven’t had them prepared correctly. Greens, the leafy part of plants such as turnips, mustards, kale and collards, and other green vegetables such as green beans, brussel sprouts and lima beans sometimes get a bad reputation because they are not seasoned correctly or cooked to near mush. They are much like their underground friends, the root vegetable we posted about recently. When cooked correctly, they are the shining jewels of a summer garden. For seasoning of these lovely green veggies, the secret to scrumptiousness is … wait for it … bacon!  The key is cooking the bacon a bit BEFORE adding the vegetables to the pot. You can drop the bacon in once your veggies are simmering in water, but you won’t get as savory of a bacon flavor to compliment the strong flavor of most greens.

If you are cooking fresh leafy greens – strip the leaves off the stems which are tough. Discard the stems. Blanche the leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes, take them out and quickly dunk them in a bowl of ice water. Drain, chop and follow the steps below to cook them up to perfection. The blanching process will help remove any bitterness that fresh greens tend to have especially if they are picked in the warmer months. The best and sweetest greens are grown in the colder months.

Leafy Greens: Kale, swiss chard, collards, etc. Tip! Strip the leaves off of the stems and discard the stems. They are tough!

Fresh green beans take longer to cook but are so worth it. Tip! Break the ends off of each bean and snap the longer beans in half before cooking.

The steps below can be used for the stove top cooking of any of the green vegetables described above. I had fresh green beans and red potatoes on hand this week. Here’s the steps I took to make them so delicious and kept my family asking for more:

  1. Pour a small amount of olive oil in the cold pan, maybe a couple of teaspoons, and turn on heat.
  2. For a serving that will feed 4, chop up 2 slices of thick cut bacon, add to oil and stir occasionally. The trick here is the oil gives the bacon “someplace to go” making it easier to move it around the pan as the fat renders out. There will be some amount of sticking and that’s okay. That’s flavor forming!
  3. Once the bacon is cooked and browning at the bottom of the pan is forming, add water to fill about half of the pan and scrap the bottom of the pan to get all that wonderful bacon flavor throughout the cooking water or pot liquor as we say in the south. If you are cooking leafy greens, you’ll add water to fill about 1/3 the pan because leafy greens will wilt down as they cook.
  4. Bring the bacon water to a boil, add the green beans, season with salt and pepper, and bring back to a boil.
  5. Turn down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add quartered potatoes, bring back to boil.
  7. Turn back down to low, season again with salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes or until tender.

Step 1: Brown bacon in olive oil before adding water to the pot.

Step 2: Add vegetables, season and simmer until fork tender.

Step 3: Put on the dinner table and watch the grins begin!

Do you have your own secret to glorious greens? Please share in the comments below!