A New Cooking Technique for Bitter Greens

By: Matthew Thompson  |  September/October 2012
Learn how this no-cook massaging technique can turn your bitter greens into a tender salad in minutes.
There’s an amazing tool for transforming bitter, dark leafy greens into a tender, melts-in-your-mouth salad packed with punchy citrus, garlic and Parmesan. And it’s only an arm’s length away: your hands! A few minutes of judicious massaging (think rolfing, not Reiki) will completely transform kale, mustard greens or broccoli rabe into something velvety and soft. The secret is in the squeezing: by doing so you actually start to break down the cell walls, releasing enzymes that split apart the bitter-tasting compounds. That’s great news for anyone who’s wanted to enjoy these greens’ amazing benefits (they’re packed with dietary fiber and bone-healthy vitamin K) but couldn’t learn to love the taste. Turns out that if you want your greens to mellow out, all you have to do is give them a massage.
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1. Prep
Start with 2 bunches of kale, mustard greens or broccoli rabe. Strip kale or mustard leaves from stems (discard stems). For broccoli rabe, separate the florets from the leaves; cut large florets into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry the leaves (and florets). Tear the leaves into small pieces and place everything in a large bowl.
2. Season
Add 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 minced anchovy fillet (optional), 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the greens.
3. Massage
With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens until the volume is reduced by about half (1 to 2 minutes). They should look a little darker and somewhat shiny and have a silky, soft texture.
Get the Recipes: Massaged Mustard Greens Salad, Massaged Kale Salad, Massaged Broccoli Rabe Salad