The Power Greens Cookbook

140 Delicious Superfood Recipes

About the Book

140 delicious, healthy recipes for dark, leafy greens that will please your palate and inspire you to clean your plate, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Kale and collards don’t have to be the only greens on your shopping list anymore. Rising stars include romaine and parsley, Brussels sprouts and beet greens, and more. But say the words “Eat your greens,” and even though we know they’re good for us, many people are afraid that they won’t taste good. Fear no more! The Power Greens Cookbook provides go-to recipes that are both nutritious and delicious.
Acclaimed cookbook author and blogger Dana Jacobi expands your culinary repertoire and introduces the fifteen Power Greens—from arugula to watercress—that are loaded with health-supporting nutrients and phytochemicals that enhance vitality, all the while protecting against diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, fortifying eyes and muscles, even making your skin glow. Jacobi also shares simple cooking techniques that help you prepare these super veggies quickly. Including main dishes and hearty salads, dips, spreads, snacks, and even drinks, The Power Greens Cookbook offers myriad mouthwatering vegetable-centric recipes.
• Soups: Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts Soup, Spinach Gazpacho with Walnuts, Hoppin’ John Stew with Mustard Greens
• Salads: Caesar Salad with Parmesan Chickpeas, Tuscan Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Walnuts, Beets and Beet Greens with Citrus Dressing
• Main Dishes: Red Beans and Smoky Greens, Kale-Smothered Pork Chops with Carrot and Apple, Tortelloni with Broccoli Rabe Florets
• Small Meals and Snacks: Avocado and Watercress Tartine, Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich with Kimchi, Poached Eggs in a Nest of Bacon-Wilted Kale
• Side Dishes and Condiments: Carrots with Wild Arugula Pesto, French Lettuce Stir-Fry, Tahini Creamed Spinach, Kale Za’atar
Shown in dozens of tantalizing photographs, these dishes are sure to become mainstays in your kitchen for weeknight family meals, casual entertaining, and elegant dinner parties. From the cruciferous and crunchy to the leafy and light, The Power Greens Cookbook is just what the doctor—and your taste buds—ordered.
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The Power Greens Cookbook



The benefits from eating Power Greens are vast—ranging from maintaining strong bones to protecting against cancer from head to toe, inside and out, including warding off skin cancers. They contain substances that neutralize and help eliminate toxins that accumulate in our bodies. Eating them helps reduce the risk of diabetes and strokes. Including them in your diet keeps your mind keen and your vision sharp.

These fifteen dark, leafy greens are dense with health-supporting nutrients and phytochemicals that protect against heart disease and high blood pressure and neutralize free radicals caused by inflammation and aging. No wonder we keep hearing more reasons why they belong in our diet every day. To put it bluntly, eating Power Greens can save your life.

Along with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and unique phytonutrients, many of these greens contain as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal, or even more. Some also contain a useful amount of protein, which is particularly helpful in a meatless diet. All this goodness makes them powerful indeed.

The Fifteen Power Greens

These fifteen dark, leafy greens stand above other vegetables because of substances found in each of them—often in high concentrations—and what these do for our bodies. All vegetables have nutritional benefits, but these in particular stand head and shoulders above the rest.


Bok Choy

Broccoli Rabe

Brussels Sprouts


Chard and Beet Greens


Collard Greens


Broccoli Leaf

Mustard Greens


Romaine Lettuce



What Is in Them?

Some of the substances in these greens are familiar vitamins and minerals. Spinach contains lavish amounts of folate and iron. Collard greens provide a hefty amount of calcium, a mineral important for everyone but especially for vegans and others who do not eat dairy foods. Many of the top greens are excellent sources of vitamin K, which scientists are learning has more and more important functions than previously realized.

In addition to these valuable vitamins and minerals, most of these greens are rich in carotenoids, a family of antioxidants. These carotenoids include lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect our eyes against macular degeneration.

Less familiar phytonutrients abound as well in these greens. Glucosinolates, indoles, sulfuraphane, and antioxidant flavonoids are powerful enough to detoxify harmful substances that come from the environment and from foods we consume. They eliminate cancer-causing toxins, protect the heart and vascular system, and reduce the DNA damage free radicals cause.

There are fifteen of these Power Greens (actually nineteen if you count red and Napa cabbages, beet greens, which are close to chard, and both broccoli leaf and an heirloom broccoli in leaf form). Each of them, with its beneficial nutrients, is described in detail in its individual section after the recipes.

Why So Many Brassicas

Ten Power Greens are brassicas, aka cruciferous vegetables. Crucifers are a varied and supercharged botanical family. The ones included here—some darker, others more leafy—are arugula, bok choy, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, collard greens, kale, leaf broccoli, mustard greens, and watercress. Like other crucifers, such as radishes and broccoli, these greens taste hot or bitter because of the abundance of sulfur compounds and other phytochemicals they contain. For the plant, these substances provide protection. For us, they act as detoxifiers and often have anticancer properties, along with many other benefits, as explained in the section for each vegetable.

Substances in cruciferous vegetables called isothiocyanates are known as goitrogens because they have the potential to affect thyroid function. No carefully conducted studies have determined a relationship between them and changes in thyroid function for healthy individuals. I have a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s disease, and my endocrinologist, an eminent expert, assures me that eating generous amounts of kale, collards, and other brassicas has not caused or affected this. Cooking reduces the amount of these heat-sensitive goitrogens. Eating up to two to three cups a week of cruciferous vegetables is generally considered fine, but check with a healthcare professional if you are concerned about the goitrogens in Brassicas, which include radishes, turnips, and other vegetables as well as broccoli and other dark greens.

Other Greens Excel, Too

Spinach, chard, and beet greens contain an abundance of folate and other vitamins and iron and other minerals. They are also extremely rich in carotenoids, which you want to make your skin look good and to protect against various cancers.

Lettuce does not top the list for nutrient density, but the B vitamins in romaine, plus its amounts of vitamins C and K qualify romaine as a Power Green, especially its dark outer leaves. So one of my missions is showing you ways to love these greener, stronger-tasting leaves.

Two Herbs Are Tops

Parsley and cilantro come next. These fresh herbs are so rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, and carotenoids that I recommend eating them as abundantly as vegetables. Recipes here use them often—cumulative amounts count—and show how to enjoy them in larger amounts than usual.

Let’s Be Real

If you don’t like a food, or if preparing it takes too long, you won’t bother with it. Four issues, I find, affect how willing people are to prepare and eat the most nutrient-powerful greens.


The good stuff in these greens is bitter by nature. What makes them so beneficial simply does taste bitter or pungently hot—or both, in the case of arugula, mustard greens, and watercress. As humans, we are biologically wired to like sweetness. And while other cultures accept and even embrace bitter foods, Americans remain notoriously averse to bitterness.


Dark greens are tough customers. Even romaine takes more chewing than other lettuces. But rather than making kale, collards, chard, and other greens pleasantly tender, many recipes undercook them, leaving them too chewy and pungent or tannic tasting.


Many of these greens are high maintenance to prepare. Using kale, collards, leafy broccoli, chard, and mustard greens requires stripping out their tough stems and center vein one leaf at a time. Sometimes two-step cooking makes them more enjoyable.


The fourth resistance I hear about dark, leafy greens is not knowing what to do with many of them. This includes being unsure how much to buy and how to store them as much as wondering how to prepare them.

A Simple Solution

Two cooking techniques solve issues about cooking kale, collards, and other greens.

Short Cooking: Plunging them briefly into one or two inches of boiling water

Quick Cooling: Swiftly chilling Short Cooked greens under cold running water

Together, these techniques speed up blanching, then shocking dark greens. They reduce bitterness yet keep vivid taste.

Short Cooked–Quick Cooled greens used in dishes actually reduce their total cooking times. From start to finish, braised Tuscan kale is tender and ready in twenty rather than forty minutes. And it tastes better.

You can refrigerate the lightly cooked greens for up to three days, letting you prep several kinds efficiently on a weekend or during an evening, then use them during the week. They are ready to freeze, too.

Dishes made with greens that are Short Cooked and Quick Cooled have better texture. Some people are fine eating kale cooked for only five minutes, until just beyond collapsing, but don’t be surprised if your jaw aches after chewing a few forkfuls. I like kale to have body, and broccoli rabe to be al dente, but not so much that eating them feels like work. I don’t want my Brussels sprouts to bite back. Using these two steps gives you greens with the right texture to complete dishes more quickly and with the best flavor.

As if all this isn’t enough, there is one more benefit to Short Cooking and Quick Cooling greens. Chard, beet greens, and collard greens release dark juices that turn soups and stews an unappealing color. Short Cooking before you use them in a recipe eliminates this problem.

How to Short Cook–Quick Cool Greens

Boil 4 to 8 cups of water in a large saucepan. Add fresh greens and use a wooden spoon to push them until they collapse into the water. Cover and cook the greens for 2 to 4 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander and swish them under cold running water to chill them, which takes 30 seconds.

For buying greens, the first question I am asked is how to select them. The individual section on each Power Green at the back of the book gives a detailed description of what you want. It includes what to look for at your supermarket and local farmer’s markets.

How much do I need to buy is usually the next question. Most of the Power Greens are sold in bunches. So how many bunches do you need?

How Big Is a Bunch?

Power Greens sold in a bag or plastic box contain a fixed weight, which makes buying the right amount easy. The Nutrition Facts labels show how many servings they provide. But there is no consistent answer for bunches because they have no fixed weight or size. More precisely, what a bunch weighs or contains is up to the farmer or grower. It is what he or she feels is right for kale, collards, broccoli leaf, arugula, parsley, and other greens. For spinach or watercress, the amount the person picking it can grasp and band determines the size of a bunch.

This vague measurement challenges cooks. But how vague is it? Using the scale every produce department has for customer use, I have weighed scores of bunches and found that for each green, there is a predictable range and an average weight. The recipes here use these as a guideline. If you, too, weigh bunches for a few weeks, your eye will get to recognize pretty closely what they weigh. Happily, most of the recipes here are flexible, so if you have a few more ounces of raw greens than called for, combine the extra with other greens in another dish, freeze them, or juice them.

Be Picky

At the store, inspect both bags and boxes—including the bottom—to make sure the contents are all in good condition.

When you get home, dump the contents into a large bowl and pick through them for crushed, spoiled leaves. Also discard pieces of tough stem, which will stay hard and tough when cooked. Cut off dry, browned ends of packaged Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, or watercress.

Always wash packaged greens. Even immaculate-looking ones labeled triple-washed can have undesirable bacteria clinging to them.

Frozen Greens

Commercially frozen greens save time, but spinach is the only one I recommend. Commercially frozen kale, collards, broccoli rabe, and Brussels sprouts taste watery. During cooking they can go quickly from tough or stringy to mushy. But I encourage freezing greens at home. A time-saver at mealtime, home-frozen kale, collards, broccoli leaf, and broccoli rabe are actually more tender when defrosted. You can braise them or use them in pasta dishes, soups, and stews with excellent, flavorful results.

Home-frozen spinach is also excellent.


I remove the stem and center vein from the large-leafed Power Greens. For Tuscan kale, this includes taking out even the thin part near the top of the leaf. For collard greens and chard, the even texture when they are cooked without their central vein is infinitely nicer.

With slight practice, I promise you will strip the average bunch of greens in two minutes. There are two ways to do it.

Fold and Tear Hold a leaf in one hand, stem pointing up. With your other hand, bring the two dark, front sides of the leaf toward each other, like closing a book. Placing one hand at the base of the leaf, with your other hand pull the leaf out and away from the vein. To keep a firm grip, move your hands down the vein as the leaf tears away.

This works best with kales, broccoli leaves, mustard greens, beet greens, and smaller chard and collard greens.

V-Cut Lay a leaf flat on a cutting board, right side up and with the stem toward you. Starting at the top of the center vein, run the knife down along each side. Lift out and discard the vein and stem.

This is the best way to strip large chard, collard greens, and cabbages.

Washing and Storing

Wait until you’re ready to use greens before washing them. They last longer this way, even if they are gritty or dirt is clinging to stems or roots.

Wash greens in a big bowl, not the sink. This avoids possible contamination. Getting most greens clean requires several water changes, so using a bowl requires less water. It lets you see better, too, when the water is clear and you are done.

My preferred way to store greens is to loosely wrap them in a paper towel, then slip them inside a plastic bag, stems facing the opening. Leave the bag open or close it loosely. Every couple of days, check and change the towel. Turn the bag inside out if there is too much moisture.

The section about each Power Green at the back of the book has more specific, individual storage instructions.

The Big Squeeze

Defrosted spinach and Short Cooked greens are full of water. To eliminate it, gather up the hardier greens and press them into a big ball. If your hands are small, like mine, make two balls.

For the softer greens—broccoli rabe, chard, and spinach—squeeze them out a handful at a time. Compress the handful in your fist until it is a firm roll; you don’t have to wring it out like laundry. Then put a couple of the rolls together and squeeze them again.

How Much Is a Cup

For a loosely packed cup, fill a dry measuring cup (see Good Technique) to the top with greens. For packed or firmly packed, keep adding to the full cup, pressing gently on the greens for packed, and pressing harder for firmly packed.

Good Technique

Measure dry ingredients like parsley, sugar, or beans in the flat-bottomed, nested cups marked 1⁄4, 1⁄3, 1⁄2, or 1 cup. Measure liquids in a clear glass or plastic cup with a pouring lip and markings for ounces and metric amounts. A 1-cup size is all you really need.


These six tools will help you prep and cook Power Greens efficiently.

Scale: You should have one anyway, but for greens, use it to weigh bunches and loose leaves. My digital scale gives weights in ounces and pounds or in grams, which is useful for baking.

Large Saucepan with a Cover: A lightweight and non-reactive pot is helpful for Short Cooking greens. I use an All-Clad 4-quart stainless steel pot. It is big enough to Short Cook up 2 pounds of stripped collard leaves or three 8-ounce bunches of spinach. A bigger pot is fine, but this size is easy to handle. The tighter the cover fits, the better.

Tongs: Use them to lift greens out of pots and to turn and move greens while sautéing them or when making kale chips. My favorite tongs, made of inexpensive metal, are 9 inches long, which gives more control than longer ones.

About the Author

Dana Jacobi
Dana Jacobi apprenticed with three-star chefs in France and is the award-winning author of fifteen cookbooks, including six for Williams-Sonoma. She has written numerous articles that have appeared in O: The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, and The New York Times, among other publications. In addition to her personal blog, Dana Dish, she also writes the blog Something Different for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Dana Jacobi consults with food companies to help create products, recipes, and website content. She lives in New York City. More by Dana Jacobi
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