How to Cook Greens and Recipes for Greens

Ruby Swiss Chard

Ruby Swiss Chard in Steve and Edith Repp’s Garden

Reader Kathleen asks: How about some recipes for greens? I know they are good for us and would like to put more in my diet but I need recipes.

Greens are good for us, and they’re also very delicious.  Greens, both wild and domesticated, are a staple in our home.

I never much liked greens when I was growing up. In my parents’ house, cooked greens meant only thawed frozen spinach reheated on the stove. Salads were made with iceberg lettuce. I didn’t like either one.

After moving out on my own, I discovered Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) and it immediately became one of my specialties. Even so, I still shunned all greens other than spinach. This was years before I met and married a Greek-American.

We moved to Greece for a year in the late 1980’s. Any prejudice I held against greens rapidly disappeared. I tried wild greens of all kinds and discovered a wide variety of delicious flavors. Boiled wild greens, dressed only with salt, olive oil and lemon, were (and are) a mainstay of our Greek table. I craved hortopita, similar to spanakopita but made with mixed wild greens.

In Greece, we never go on walks without a gathering bag and knife in hand, and shamelessly dart into waste land between rows of vineyard grapes for particularly lovely greens. When I see Greek women in the fields, heads down and fannies in the air, I know they’ve found a particularly tasty patch. I don’t want the women’s picture, but I do want to know what they’re harvesting.

Greeks are not the only ones with a yen for greens. People in most countries along the Mediterranean coast love greens and have a multitude of recipes for using them. I’ve recently taken a fancy to Tourte de Blettes, a Provençal pie that combines Swiss chard and fruit. The Tourte is both sweet and savory, and can be served either as a main course, or sprinkled with powdered sugar, as dessert.

The pie uses only the leaves of Swiss chard. Instead of tossing a large pile of chard stalks into the garbage, I use them to make Dip of Swiss Chard Stalks and Tahini, a Middle Eastern dish that makes a lovely addition to a table of appetizers or small plates.

Many thanks to Catherine Lamb for testing and helping photograph these recipes.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


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6 Responses to How to Cook Greens and Recipes for Greens

  1. Pingback: Early September, 2012: Sydney and Thai Lettuce Wraps « Heat in the Kitchen

  2. looks great laurie! brings back great memories

  3. Pingback: How to Cook Greens and Recipes for Greens | Laurie Constantino » Greek Recipes

  4. Joanie Cleary says:

    Laurie–this Swiss Chard Tourte from Nice looks fabulous. since i bought both chard and collard greens the other day, would it work if i combined them to make a torte for a group of 7 people? i imagine i’d have to blanche the collards for a bit longer before adding.
    what do you think?

    • Hi Joanie, Collard greens have a unique flavor that I’m not sure would go with the sweeter elements like apples, currants, and brandy. With collards in the mix, I’d recommend the Kale Galette instead. Collards and Swiss chard should mix well in that recipe. Good Luck! Laurie

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