Greek Greens ♥

Greek Greens, how to hold dark leafy greens for later, another simple technique ♥ Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Great for Meal Prep. Vegan. Gluten Free.
This is my favorite method for cooking dark leafy greens like chard (a personal fave, also mustard greens, turnip greens, leafy spinach and other greens) by just dropping them into hot boiling and well-salted water to "flash cook" or "blanch" the greens for a few minutes today to be eaten later.

Real Food, Fast & Healthy. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly.

Greens Are So Perishable, Take Up So Much Room

At the farmers market, my intentions' eyes are too often bigger than my reality's stomach, especially with greens that have short shelf-lives. And then the greens take up so much room in the fridge and are susceptible to frostbite there too.

That's why the technique for Greek Greens is life-changing. Now, when I come home from the farmers market with greens, especially beet greens that would otherwise go to waste, I start a pot of water to boil before putting away the other vegetables. Here's why.

A big bunch of greens will cook down to almost nothing, that means they're easier to store in the fridge for two or three days.
Slightly cooked greens are easier to digest, they turn almost sweet and silky and completely delicious.
They taste so wonderful!

Frankly, I crave these Greek Greens, especially made with chard. A couple of big bunches of chard are a good start to lunches throughout the week: just add a little cottage cheese, other leftover vegetables and I'm good. Another favorite? Beet greens but only if they're young and tender.

How to Cook Greek Greens

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in a few easy steps. You can do this!

PUT THE WATER ON TO BOIL Use a big pot like a Dutch oven or large saucepan. That's because the greens themselves start off voluminous, even though they'll cook down fast. How much water? I usually fill the Dutch oven about halfway.

SALT THE WATER Salt both seasons and preserves the greens. Allow about a tablespoon of kosher salt for every four cups of water. Now that may sound like a lot of salt but remember, it's salting the water and only a certain amount will be absorbed by the greens.

TRIM & CLEAN THE GREENS First, cut off the stems and/or heavy inner ribs, they clean easily and will cook separately. Cleaning the leaves is the very most important step for greens, no matter how they're being eaten or cooked! If you need lots of detailed instruction, look for that here along with Leafy Greens from A Veggie Venture's famous A-Z of Vegetables. Some times rinsing the greens is enough. Other times, especially with greens from the farmers market, you may need to thoroughly soak and wash the greens, some times even more than once. But do take care here, there's nothing worse than, ugh, "grit in your greens".

CUT UP THE LEAVES You can use this technique with whole greens but I've learned that they're easier to use later if you take the time to cut them up. Some people say to cut the greens into ribbons. Me, I avoid ribbons because they can turn stringy out of the water. My favorite is about two-inch squares. Now if cutting squares sounds tedious, don't worry, it's not. Once the greens are cleaned, flatten each leaf and stack one atop the other, no need to be all precise, just stack them up. Then use a sharp knife to cut first one way and then the other; again, no need to be exact, the idea is just to end up with smaller pieces of greens. Oh! And after the leaves are cut up, cut up the stems and ribs too, however big you want them, I usually do half-inch lengths. Set these aside for now.

FLASH COOK (BLANCH / BOIL) THE GREENS Once the water reaches a full boil, drop a big handful of greens into the boiling water. To get them all in, you may need to do this in two or three batches, pressing the first batch down into the hot water, making room for the second and even the third or forth. Work quickly, you want all the greens to cook for the same length of time.

HOW LONG TO COOK THE GREENS? Sorry, it so depends, I can't really be exact. Chard leaves and beet greens, for example, are good in three minutes, you can set a timer on that. Other greens, depending on their sturdiness, their maturity, their variety, well, they'll take longer but it's hard to say exactly how long. Grab a tongs and every so often, pull out a bit of leaf and taste for tenderness. What you're aiming for is something soft and silky with lots of astringency. Definitely do not let the greens turn to mush. You don't want mush.

LIFT OUT THE LEAVES TO DRAIN Use a couple of slotted spoons (or if you have one, one of those Asian tools called a spider) to move the cooked greens into a colander to drain. Leave the water in the pot. As soon as the leaves are out, add the chopped-up stems and ribs, let them cook for about 5 minutes, just until tender. Then drain the water from the pot, grabbing the cooked stems and ribs.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!
  • What Makes These Greek Greens? Tradition. This is a traditional Greek dish called "Horta Vrasta" [HOR-tah vrah-STAH].
  • Aren't Greek Greens really just boiled greens? Well, yes. But I like the sound of Greek Greens better because, well, isn't it a lot more appetizing than "boiled" greens?!
  • Are Greek Greens blanched? flash-cooked? Yes. These are just different terms for the same cooking process.
  • Does this technique work with all greens? No. It doesn't work with radish greens, they turn to mush in seconds. And it doesn't work with "baby" greens like baby kale, baby spinach, etc. which are just too tender for the boiling water treatment. My advice? Baby greens are salad greens, just eat them raw. Save this technique for sturdy greens and mature greens. I'm also not fond of kohlrabi greens cooked this way.

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...
Greek Greens, how to hold dark leafy greens for later, another simple technique ♥ Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Great for Meal Prep. Vegan. Gluten Free.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Water to boil
Table salt
Big bunch of greens

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a generous amount of salt.

Wash the greens well under running water. As the leaves are washed, stack them so that the junctions of the stems and leaves are lined up. In one big bunch, cut the leaves from the stems, then cut the leaves into roughly two-inch squares. Cut the stems and ribs into half-inch lengths.

Add the leaves, submersing them into the boiling water if necessary, and let them cook until tender, several minutes, tasting as you go along for doneness. Transfer the greens to a colander (use a couple of slotted spoons or a spider). While the water's still hot, add the chopped stems and ribs, let them cook for about 5 minutes or until tender. Let the leaves, stems and ribs cool and drain, then refrigerate for up to two or three days.

Some cooks recommend soaking greens in cold standing water for several minutes to soften and loosen the dirt, then rinsing under running water. I do when greens are very dirty. Mostly, however, I only wash them carefully, running my fingers across the surface, discarding leaves that seem tough or are otherwise in tough shape. It all depends on how dirty the greens are, how crinkly the leaves are to hide grit.
The inspiring recipe also says to discard the stems. But don't, they're sooo good! Plus, beet stems have such glorious ruby color. But I also like to cook and store the stems separately from the greens. They can be fibrous for some people's digestive systems, a little goes a long way.


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 1 to many

Greek Greens
Cooked beets (how to cook beets), cut into small bites
Splash of good vinegar
Splash of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients, serve and savor!


Hands-on time: 15 minutes (if greens are already cooked)
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

Splash olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 pound (or more) tilapia or other mild-flavored fish, cut in one-inch pieces

8 ounces (225g) pasta, cooked
Chilled Greek Greens, stems and leaves

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons good mustard
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Salt & pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the ginger and the fish and let cook for 5 - 6 minutes, until the fish is done. Meanwhile, collect the cooked pasta and Greek Greens in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked fish. Gently combine. Serve immediately. Delish!

Still Hungry?

More Favorite Recipes for Leafy Greens

~ Vegetables 101: What Are Bitter Greens? ~
~ Vegetables 101: How to Revive Fresh Greens ~

~ Asian Greens ~
~ Quick "Massaged" Kale Salad ~
~ Braised Collard Greens ~
~ more recipes for leafy greens ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Slow-Cooked Greens & Smoked Turkey ~
~ Greens & Grits ~
~ Shrimp with Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta ~
~ more leafy green recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

Seasonal Eating During the Height of Summer

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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Can I just tell you how happy I am to have discovered this webpage? My husband does not understand my love of beets, particulary golden beets. So I'm happy to have a found a cache of recipes to entice over to our side. Thanks.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna