8 Unique Leafy Vegetables to Start Cooking With

Posted by Luisa de Luca on

Leafy Green Vegetables

While predictability might be desirable in many areas of life, predictability in the kitchen isn’t always a positive habit. Many of us get bored eating the same thing over and over, and frequently eating foods we like can make them start to sound less and less appetizing. Vegetables prove a particularly challenging culinary category. How many times a week can you eat a side salad and still get excited about? And sure, steamed broccoli or roasted Brussels sprouts are delicious, but not when you have them three times a week! To help you change up your kitchen routine, here’s a list of 8 unique leafy greens – and how to cook them! – so you can eat your greens:

1. Kale. Now, kale isn’t news to anyone, but have you tried going beyond a salad with this hearty green vegetable? Sautéing it or adding it to soups will change how you view this popular green. PS, if you have a hard time with kale in a salad, try massaging it with a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt before adding your dressing to soften it up. Or, mix it half-and-half with arugula.

2. Beet greens. You’re familiar with eating beets, but did you know their leafy tops are also good eating? Despite what you might think, they have a fairly mild flavor that can be quite enjoyable. Toss slightly silted leaves in with a pasta dish or on top of pizza. You can also braise beet greens in garlic and red pepper flakes to put on top of crostini. Or, use the greens as a base for a beet salad and use the whole plant!

Bok Choy

3. Bok choy. You probably recognize this vegetable from the Chinese restaurant menu, but it’s accessible in most grocery stores. Similar in nutrition to cabbage, it tastes like a cross between iceberg lettuce, cabbage, and mustard. It’s delicious raw (giving salads a hearty crunch or used instead of lettuce on a sandwich) or added to a stir fry. The crunch and flavor also make bok choy a unique substitute for celery.

4. Collard Greens. If you’re from the South, you are well-acquainted with this dark leafy green vegetable. The wide leaves are slightly tough and have a potent cabbage-like taste. Popularly paired with bacon or ham, collards are best prepared braised or sautéed to ensure they are well cooked. However, steam them slightly and use them to wrap fish or other meat.

5. Mustard Greens. Spicy and full of flavor, mustard greens have a unique peppery taste. Since their flavor is so intense, a dish of just mustard greens might be a bit overpowering. Try adding it raw to salads or sautéing it and adding to your favorite pasta dish.

6. Broccoli Rabe. Similar to regular broccoli, broccoli rabe has smaller buds and is typically seen in Asian or Italian cooking. Taste-wise, it’s more bitter than broccoli, but prepared correctly is delicious. Try it roasted (with garlic, of course!) or braised; add it to your pizza instead of spinach.

7. Cabbage. The humble cabbage is often overlooked for lack of creativity. However, there is so much you can do with it! And have we talked about how inexpensive it is? The sky’s the limit when it comes to tasty cabbage slaw recipes – a traditional slaw tastes particularly excellent with Mexican flavors. Saurkraut or kimchi are powerful gut-friendly ways to enjoy it, and if you haven’t tried roasted cabbage yet – do it tonight!


8. Chard. Swiss chard, rainbow chard – any type of chard is a hearty green with a taste similar to beet greens and spinach. Like many of these greens, it tastes great sautéed or braised. Chop it up and add it to quiches and breakfast casseroles, or cream it. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the sturdy stems taste excellent pickled. You can even puree chard with parsley, cilantro, mint, and feta for a delicious soup. As you embark on your journey of cooking with unique leafy vegetables, remember… • You can add just about anything to a stir-fry and it’ll taste great. • If you don’t love the flavor of a particular green, mix it with other greens you do enjoy. • Add it to a smoothie or protein shake and you’ll hardly know it’s there! Bon appetite!

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