This foolproof recipe for simple sautéed greens takes less than 10 minutes from prep to table. A perfect side dish for your busy weeknights. This sautéed greens recipe uses any mix leafy greens you have on hand including kale, spinach, or swiss chard.
Please read the entire post for tips and tricks to ensure a perfect recipe every time. And don't forget to tag @peelwithzeal on Instagram so we can admire your creation!
This post may include affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Every season has its favorite green, bok choy in the winter or arugula in the spring. Between our CSA and the fact that I randomly write"greens" on every shopping list we always have something on hand so we can throw together a quick side dish.
But when life calls and the greens start to pile up we need a go-to recipe to fall back on. So it is either sauteed greens or I throw them in a pot of soup in place of noodles. Check out our Herby Turkey Kale Soup to see what I am talking about!
Types of Greens to Use for Sauteing
And yes, I do love fancy leafy greens with roasted pine nuts or preserved lemons but I don’t always have time for that (or the ingredients on hand!). So, I stick with what works. easy sautéed greens! My favorite is a combination of kale and swiss chard. But sometimes I am just lopping off the top of my turnips and going to town.
Not familiar with all the options for sauteing greens? Lets review.
- Spinach- Probably the easiest and simplest green to work with. You can use the pre-washed bagged spinach or use the large bulk spinach. Spinach tends to be very sandy. Give it a pre-rinse and then remove the stems. After that soak the leaves in a big bowl swirling around the leaves. The dirt and sand will drop down, repeat until the spinach is clean. The spinach will take 3 to 4 minutes to cook.
- Kale- Just like with spinach you can use the pre-washed baby kale or the larger kale. Lacinato is my favorite variety. To use these larger varieties remove the stems and chop into 1-inch pieces. Kales takes 4 to 5 minutes to cook.
- Swiss Chard- I like using baby chard greens. Destem and cut the leaves into 2-inch pieces. These greens are perfect after sauteing for about 5 minutes.
- Arugula- These peppery greens are light and airy. Arugula is easy to overcook. I cook for one minute and then turn off the heat. The residual heat will cook the greens in 1-2 minutes.
- Mustard Greens- This is a fun one if you can find them. Wash similar to the spinach. Most people feel strongly about sauteed mustard greens, love, or hate. But if you cook them for 4 to 5 minutes they will be delicious.
- Collard Greens- While collard greens are typically associated with a slow cooking method you can use use the smaller leaves for sauteeing. Prep them just like the swiss chard. They take longer to coo, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Root Vegetable Greens- Don't waste these delicious greens! The tops of turnips, carrots, beets, and even radishes are great additions. No waste! If you are unsure about working with root tops try doing a 50/50 mix with root greens and kale.
How to Make Sautéed Greens
The goal of this recipe is to give you a template to follow for your favorite greens. A quick sauté on the onion to soften gives a slight sweetness but keeps the texture needed to stand up to the greens. we love caramelized onions, just not for this.
Next, thirty seconds on the garlic takes the bite out without burning. Add the greens, turning the greens frequently to ensure they evenly wilt. Finally, a touch of acid in the form of apple cider vinegar removes any bitterness.
You can use any vinegar you like Or even lemon juice. An optional garnish of lemon zest is always a nice touch. I love citrus zest on pretty much everything in the winter. It makes the grey Ohio skies feel way less depressing!
Sauteed Greens Recipe Variations
Looking to jazz up your sauteed greens a bit? Here are some ways to dress up your greens.
- Sesame- Drizzle your cooked greens with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds.
- Italian- Add 1/4 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes with the onions and top with a 1/4 cup of toasted pinenuts.
- Greek- Mix in 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano and 1/3 cup each of sliced kalamata olives and feta crumbles.
- Harvest- Stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
- Large saute pan
- 1 bunch greens (kale, spinach, swiss chard etc)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- De-stem greens (if needed) and tear into pieces
- Melt coconut oil in high sided sauté pan over medium heat
- Add onion, 2-3 minutes until slightly soft
- Add garlic, cook 30 seconds
- Add greens, stir until wilted (1-2 minutes for lighter greens, 3-4 minutes for hearty greens)
- Turn up heat slightly, add apple cider vinegar and allow to deglaze slightly
- Remove from heat, salt to taste and serve
- Any unused stems can be saved and added to smoothies