A Healthy Holiday Recipe: A Zillion Ways with Winter Greens

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Sauteed Winter Greens. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Sauteed Winter Greens. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

All Photos: Wendy Goodfriend

I love winter greens. This was not always the case. I used to like them just fine, and then I went and got pregnant a few years ago. Unfortunately, during my first trimester, which coincided with winter harvest, I came down with a massive aversion to vegetables. Especially greens (and Brussels sprouts, but that’s a whole different story). They were everywhere and they were disgusting. Anyway, after I had my daughter, I eased back into them. Very very slowly. Starting with spinach, moving on to chard, and then, the clincher: kale. Kale salad brought me back. It was and still is everywhere, and for good reason. It’s yummy. And super good for you. Thankfully my daughter loves greens, in fact, they are the only green vegetable she will readily eat (she also loves ripping up kale leaves for my morning kale smoothie). I was certain she’d hate them, attributing my aversion to her tastes inside my belly. Nope. That was not really a scientific observation anyway.

But I’m seriously getting off track. One of the reasons I love greens is that you can sauté them a ZILLION different ways and have a completely different dish. Not only that but they are overflowing with vitamins, minerals, fiber, rainbows, sparkles, and kittens. Ok, maybe not the last 3, but they are seriously good for you.

This is a great addition to any meal, a regular weeknight dinner, a gathering of friends or family, or even a holiday feast. Dress it up or dress it down as you see fit.

Here’s a basic recipe that includes a lot of ideas for embellishments. You can change it each and every time depending on your tastes, what you have on hand, or how crazy you want to get.


Some of my favorite add-in combos are:

  • garlic, bacon, balsamic, and shaved Parmesan
  • currants, pine nuts, and balsamic
  • cranberries, toasted walnuts, and Asiago
  • pecans and cherries
Ingredients for sauteed greens. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Ingredients for sauteed greens. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Recipe: Sauteed Greens with Add-ins

Serves 4-6

2 bunches winter greens, such as chard, kale, or collards
Olive oil
Kosher salt


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit such as currants, cranberries, or chopped cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, or pine nuts
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped bacon or pancetta, cooked until crisp
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar (the better quality, the better) or sherry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup shaved hard cheese such as Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano

Trim off the bottom inch (or two) from your greens. Wash and dry the leaves, then separate the leaves from the ribs. Finely chop the ribs and set aside. Roughly chop the leaves and set aside separately.

In a large sauté pan, warm a few glugs of olive oil. Add the chopped ribs and sauté for 2–4 minutes, depending upon their toughness; they should be slightly tender. Add the leaves and sauté until tender and wilted, from 4-10 minutes depending upon the type of greens you are cooking (spinach cooks fastest, then chard, then kale, then collards). You want them to be tender but not mushy, and still retain a little bit of a bite.

Season with salt and stir in any your add-ins for about the last 30–60 seconds of cooking. Serve warm.