If you're trying to incorporate more greens into your diet this year, there's a whole category of delicious ones out there that you should try: bitter greens. Dandelion, arugula, chicories, broccoli rabe, and even kale have a great characteristic bitterness to them.
While I've grown to love a little bitterness in a dish since it adds interest and complexity, sometimes these greens are just way too bitter and intense on their own. Here are three ways you can tone down the bitterness so you can still enjoy eating your greens!
1. Blanch first.
Once, I decided to skip a step and not blanch the broccoli rabe for a pasta dish first. I totally regretted it and the whole dish came out bitter and unappetizing. The next time, when I made the same dish and blanched the broccoli rabe in salted water first, it was delicious. Blanching helps to leech out some of the bitterness and works best with hardier greens.
- Get a recipe: Rapini with Orecchiette and White Beans
2. Add other strongly flavored ingredients.
Fight bitterness with other flavors like salt, sweetness, and spice. Cook bitter greens with bacon or sausage, pump up the garlic, throw in something spicy, or add a sweet element, like roasted squash or dried fruit. Having a strong contrasting flavor will temper the bitterness and help balance the dish out since bitter greens can have a strong vegetal flavor in addition to bitterness.
Recipes to Try
3. Add acid.
Acids, like vinegar and citrus juice, help to brighten up bitter greens and provide a light contrasting flavor. While bitter green salads usually already contain a good amount of acid, adding a little acid at the end of a cooked bitter greens dish will also provide the same effect of brightening and bringing all the flavors in a dish together.