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The magic technique to get people to eat their greens

By Hilary Meyer, September 25, 2012 - 11:57am

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I used to always cook my dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli rabe and mustard greens to death. I did that because I thought I had to, to get rid of their sharp, cruciferous and often bitter taste. That’s probably why my husband met my “we’re having kale for dinner tonight, honey” announcement with something less than enthusiasm. He always politely choked the stuff down, but I bet he would rather have been eating castor oil.

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That’s until I discovered a new technique for “massaging” bitter greens with a tangy dressing using your bare hands. Sound weird? It kind of is, but hear me out: By squeezing (or massaging) raw bitter greens you actually start to break down the cell walls, releasing enzymes that split apart the bitter-tasting compounds. And, you also work in the flavor of the dressing. (We like lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, olive oil and a splash of reduced-sodium soy sauce, but you can experiment with any dressing.) Who knew the solution to overcooking dark leafy greens to make them palatable was actually not cooking them at all? Here’s the basic technique:

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1. Start with kale, mustard greens or even broccoli rabe. Remove the tough stems.

2. Wash the leaves (and your hands). Tear the leaves into small pieces and put them in a large bowl.

3. Pour your dressing in (enough to coat the leaves) and squeeze the leaves in the bowl together with the dressing until the leaves darken in color and the volume shrinks to about half, and you’re done!

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Massaged Kale SaladMassaged Kale Salad
Here a pungent garlicky dressing is infused into kale by massaging the greens and the dressing together with your hands. Any type of kale will work in this kale salad recipe, just remember to remove the tough stems before you start.

What’s your favorite way to cook (or not to cook!) dark leafy greens? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Hilary Meyer, Food Blog, Cooking tips

Hilary Meyer
Hilary Meyer develops and tests healthy recipes in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

Hilary asks: What’s your favorite way to cook (or not to cook!) dark leafy greens?

Tell us what you think:

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