It goes without saying that greens are a nutritional powerhouse. Kale, spinach, chard, collards, turnip, mustard – they’re all a wonderful addition to a nourishing diet.

It wasn’t until almost three years ago that I discovered cooking greens. I was pregnant for the first time and my midwives kept talking about eating lots of greens, “and not just spinach.” So I brought some kale home for the first time, with no idea what to do with it. I sauteed it with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice and it was alright, for kale. I figured it would be bitter no matter how it was prepared, and I just had to eat it without enjoyment. So I did. I also figured out that you can put greens in just about any soup, casserole or stir fry with great results – you don’t even know they’re there.

When I was low in iron during this last pregnancy, and needing to eat greens a couple of times a day, it was time to find a way to eat them – and enjoy them – in large portions, all on their own. Then I discovered a side dish at a local restaurant – southern style braised greens. I ordered them, thinking it would be wise to choose those over a potato dish. I figured I would choke them down and get my serving for the day. Boy was I wrong!

I could turn this dish into a meal all in itself. I don’t know if it is simply because I need iron, or because they are so delicious, but this is the best way to eat your greens. Most of the bitterness of the greens melts away into a smokey, peppery flavor which is accentuated by the smoky bacon and tang of vinegar. Onions and garlic add depth, and of course great flavor. I like to make a single or double batch of these one night, eat them alone the next day for lunch and as a side dish the following night. They are best the day you make them and for a couple of days beyond that.

If you don’t think you like greens, try these – I think you’ll like them.

Southern Style Braised Greens

Recipe notes:

  • When I don’t have a lot of time for vegetable trimming, I like to purchase a bag of mixed greens already trimmed. This particular bag was an organic variety from Trader Joe’s containing mustard, turnip and collard greens.
  • I like to add the red pepper flakes last to impart sporadic bits of heat. If you prefer greens that are spicy throughout, simply add them with the garlic.


3 strips of bacon, chopped (turkey or pork)
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb. trimmed mixed greens (approximately two bunches)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes


In a large soup pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until it has rendered it’s fat and is crispy. Add the onions and cook in the bacon grease with a pinch of salt until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about two minutes. Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan. Deglazing means to bring the chicken stock to a slow boil and scrape up all of the browned bits off of the bottom. This infuses the stock with great flavor from the bacon, onions and garlic.

Add the greens with a good pinch of salt and cook until they have wilted down enough to be able to stir easily. You may have to work in batches. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan and allow to simmer for at least thirty minutes, or up to two hours. Shortly before serving, stir in vinegar and red pepper flakes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Best when served warm, not piping hot. The flavors are lost a bit when just off the stove.


11 Responses to Southern Style Braised Greens

  1. noelle says:

    Love seeing this idea. I know greens are good for us so I bought some rainbow chard the other day. I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond, but they all did OK. I just sauteed it with some garlic and it was OK but nothing special. I am going to try these braised greens now. I bet the kids will LOVE them. After all, anything that starts with bacon and onion is YUM! I have been wasting most of my greens from our CSA. I did use some of the turnip greens a couple of times last year. Plan on using more this year…turnip greens, beet greens, kohlrabi greens.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Nancy says:

    Ok, I’ll admit that the only greens I’ve ever cooked are spinach and kale and only have I done this w/in the past year. This recipe sounds good but like Noelle mentioned, anything that starts with bacon has to be good. I’ll try anything once.


  3. Jenny says:

    I love greens! I’ll have to try your recipe – I bet the combination of stock and bacon make a phenomenal combination. We really like greens for breakfast – just top them with a fried egg. YUM.


  4. pam says:

    I love greens and this looks like a fabulous way to have them. I even like them cold as a salad.


  5. Lauren B says:

    Oh, greens and bacon–this dish speaks to me! It looks just as good as the greens served in good Southern restaurants. Will be trying this for breakfast Sunday!


  6. I have never made greens, but those look really good. I might have to try them!


  7. [...] know if you have noticed or not, but there is a theme going on in our kitchen: soups and greens. And why not? When it is single digits outside, soup just sounds good, right? This week alone we [...]

  8. Cathy says:

    I finally got around to trying this tonight with kale…delicious!


  9. angie says:

    I just made this dish with beet greens and our own home cured/smoked bacon. Wow it is amazing!


  10. Emily says:

    I just bought some braised greens from a local farmer and had no idea what to do with them. I’m so glad I found your page. I made them and had them for lunch – what a treat! Thank you!


  11. Jane says:

    Sounds fabulous but then with bacon and garlic it has to be good. Hoping my family enjoys. I have been trying to find a recipe with kale that they might actually eat and I think this might be it! Thank you for sharing.


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