Wild Greens: Woods to Table

Wild Greens Recipe

Upgrade kale or mustard greens with wild greens like dandelion or pokeweed.

Serves4 to 6

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Wild greens in colander
Credit: Kelly Marshall

With foraging on the rise, it’s not as difficult as you might think to find wild foods — even if they don’t grow in your back field. Wild greens are nutritious and give us a palatable taste of the past. Greens make a great side with just about any meat dish. For a plant-based plate, add greens to a trio of fried corn, mashed potatoes, and mustard-glazed carrots.

If you are lucky enough to cook with fresh wild greens, make sure they were picked with an expert on hand (or online), because many kinds are toxic.

I often mix them with domestic greens because the flavor of the wild greens is strong and because my grandmother always did.

Wild Greens Recipe

Upgrade kale or mustard greens with wild greens like dandelion or pokeweed.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    mixed greens, such as kale, mustard, and turnip

  • 1 pound

    dandelion greens, pokeweed, and/or wild greens of your choice

  • 1/4 cup

    vegetable oil

  • 1

    large onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    liquid smoke

  • 4 cups

    (1 quart) vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought (32 ounces)

  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. For the store-bought greens, strip the leaves from their tough stems as needed. Place them in a large bowl of cold water, swishing them about to dislodge any dirt or grit. Lift them out of the water to drain, shaking off the excess water. Chop or tear them into bite-size pieces — even the greens that were already chopped.

  2. For the wild greens, chop or tear them as needed. Many kinds need to be either blanched or soaked in salt water for 30 minutes to draw out any toxins. I was taught to blanch and rinse them three times: Add them to boiling salted water, cook very briefly, then drain and rinse in a colander. Repeat two more times with fresh boiling salted water, cook, then drain and rinse again. The water from your final rinsed greens should run clear.

  3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Stir in the onion and minced garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until the onion is translucent and quite soft.

  4. Add your chopped store-bought greens in batches. Cook until they begin to wilt, then keep stirring until they have completely wilted and mixed in with the onion and minced garlic. Add your blanched and rinsed wild greens, then stir in the garlic powder and liquid smoke.

  5. Pour in the broth, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring a few times, until the greens are as tender as you like them to be.

  6. Taste and season with red pepper flakes, if desired, and salt and black pepper as needed. Serve the greens hot with some of their pot likker.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks by Crystal Wilkinson copyright© 2024. Photographs by Kelly Marshall copyright © 2024. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.