My friend Anna (of Lunch Box London fame) has worked in a lot of professional kitchens and has shared many time and effort-saving tricks with me since I have known her. Cooking with her is a pleasure — she cooks intuitively and creatively, has great taste and zero fear. Anna is also really efficient. If she can do something in two steps, no way she is going to take five. Or a burner on the stove. Or dirty an extra pan.
I am a complete convert to Anna’s low-effort method of prepping kale and other hardy greens: Set a kettle of water to boil. Wash greens under cold water, remove the tender leaves from the stem and put into a medium sized bowl. Once the water is boiling, pour over the greens to just cover and use a small bowl to keep them submerged. After 3-5 minutes, drain the greens in a colander, rinse with cold water if necessary to handle, and squeeze out excess water.
And for all that ease, it gets even better. Raw greens start to lose their color and nutrition after a few days (sometimes sooner). Cooking the greens helps stop the process so they last longer and they take up less room in the fridge. Do this for one big batch and you have greens prepped and ready to add into several dishes over the course of the week. Some ideas to get you started:
- To serve as a side dish, simply season with lemon juice and sea salt, melted butter and garlic, vinaigrette, soy sauce, etc.
- Add to a salad. The whole leaves make an excellent base for a lunch of chicken or tuna salad sans bread. Or mix into a grain salad made with quinoa or spelt. I usually chop the cooked leaves for a finer texture if I am mixing in.
- To add to a pasta sauce or a soup, chop finely and stir in.
- Add into an omelet or frittata.
- Blitz into a pesto with olive oil, lemon juice, a small handful of nuts (pine nuts are traditional, walnuts work well), parmesan cheese and salt.
- Sauté in bacon fat until fully soft and mix with bacon or ham for a richer, more traditional side dish.
I use this method regularly for kale, collards, spring greens and chard. It also improves the flavor and color of crudités, like carrot sticks and broccoli florets, which can taste unpleasant when completely raw. I only leave these for one minute and then drain immediately.