Batch-Cooked Greens

Reminder: This blog for people who are eating, or who want to eat, a whole food, plant based diet, as described by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” and his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.  The food is from these categories: all vegetables except avocado, all legumes, all whole grains and products made from 100% whole grains (no added fats), and all fruits.   

I described in a previous post why it’s useful to make certain foods in batches, and which foods work well as batches for me. Hopefully, you will create your own batchmaking process, for foods you like which are amenable to it.


Cooking greens is very straightforward .  The most time-consuming part, and the reason I like to make greens in batches, is cutting them into bite size pieces.  I am so glad at this point, that I used to make bread and from that era in my life, I have a giant cutting board.  It weighs a ton, and takes up a whole area of the counter.  Here’s a picture just to show you how big it is:cutting board.jpg

and it’s no accident that the trash pail is right there to catch the compostables (no, I don’t, but I should; the bag is biodegradable.)

This is where I cut up the greens. I put them in a pile, one big leaf over another, then make longitudinal cuts so there are ribbons about one to two inches in diameter.  I turn the pile 90 degrees, and slice them cross-wise.  This is a very rough process.  I figure if you can get them into your mouth, your teeth can take over.  I cut up baby greens for salads like that, too.  A pile of baby greens cut one way then the other, like a hashtag.  Just rotate the whole pile—again, rough cut, neatness doesn’t count, but try to keep most of them off the floor 😉

In preparation for batch cooking, take your 6-quart pot out, put it on the cold stove, and take the lid off (It is not fun to have handfuls of greens going toward the pot and find that the lid is still on.)   Bring out your quart of chopped raw onion and dump however much of it you want into the pot. I use about 1/2 quart for a pot of greens. Add sliced or minced cloves of garlic to the chopped onion if you like. Pot is still room temperature.  As you slice the greens, usually in groups not too large to manage, put the chopped greens into the pot.  Fill it up to the top if you need to; they shrink in cooking. Now take a quart of veggie broth or water or rice-water (see batch cooking rice) and pour it on the raw greens, onions, and garlic.  Cover, and turn on the heat. If you start them on medium or medium high, set your timer to remind you to check them, as they should simmer, not boil like crazy. Intermittently stir with a folding motion, turning them over to try to make them cook homogenously.  The more greens you are cooking, the more you need to redistribute them. But give them at least five minutes to cook before stirring again.

After about 20 minutes, taste for tenderness.  Estimate how done they are and set your timer again. Keep checking until they are just right, or right enough. You can take them off the heat, leave them covered, and come back later to put them in jars. You probably need a break by now.

If you jar them while they are hot, your jars will seal, but you should still keep them in the refrigerator, as they are not really sterile. You’re going to use them in less than a week. Check the post on Tools for pictures of the jars, lids, and funnel.

We went to Dr. Esselstyn’s seminar on September 21, 2018, in Cleveland, Ohio.  It was very  inspiring, and gave me renewed determination to be hard-core.  At the seminar, Ann Esselstyn showed us how to STRIP the greens to eliminate the sticks for more rapid cooking—only 4 to 6 minutes for chopped or torn stripped greens in boiling water or broth.  A serving of those greens six times a day is what Dr. Esselstyn recommends to keep the inner walls of your arteries bathed in the healing nitric oxide produced in your body by chewing and swallowing the combination of balsamic vinegar and greens (kale, collards, etc., not lettuces.) We manage to have a big (3/4 cup) serving of greens every lunch and dinner.

HOW TO STRIP GREENS:  As best I can describe it, pinch or squeeze to crush the area of the big leaves next to the stem to loosen the connection to the stem. Then pull the stem out of the leaf with one hand while (or whilst, if you’re in the UK) you are holding the leafy part tightly with the other hand.  Ann did this very quickly and it worked great. I had a little trouble with the “stick” breaking, but trying to pull more slowly, and crush the connection between leaf and stem better, allowed a better result.  Small sticks cook up just like the leaf parts.  I’m sure I’ll improve with continued practice.  BTW, lacinato kale is the easy to strip, collards are more difficult.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I saved the sticks, and am going to chop them like celery and add them to cook with pasta sauce.

Stripping makes greens cook to tenderness more quickly, as you don’t have to wait for the sticks to get tender.  So even if not batch cooking greens, you may want to strip.  Here’s a video of me stripping, made by my husband Ed (not as exciting as that sounds):


I think next I’ll post the process to make no-oil granola!  Be 100% plant based!

I am a 75 year old retired M.D. radiologist, always interested in staying healthy by eating natural foods and avoiding pharmaceuticals, four years ago converted to the Whole Food Plant Based diet and lifestyle by watching Forks Over Knives and Fed Up. This blog follows my path in sticking with this rather extreme program and keeping it simple, hopefully useful to others who want to live long and prosper without open heart surgery and chemotherapy.

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