Everything You Can Do With Spring Greens This Month

Got greens? We’ve got ideas.

Your CSA just started and now you’ve been inundate with pounds and pounds and pounds (and no, I’m not exaggerating) of leafy greens. Although kale can be good in small quantities, does anyone really need bushels of the stuff? If you’ve lost the will to be creative in the kitchen in the face of so many greens, here are some tips on slogging through the season of greens.

Make and Freeze a Pesto

Pesto freezes beautifully, so don’t worry about making it in bulk.

Dust off the food processor, because this is the time of year when you’ll need it the most. Strip those greens from their stems, pulse them in the food processor with a healthy helping of oil, garlic, and cheese (if you have it), and you have the makings for an excellent pesto. You can freeze it in bulk, for use on some future pasta, or, better yet, pour it into an ice cube tray for individualized portions. Cubes of pesto can be used to create a fly-by-night sauce, or they can be added to soups or meat dishes as a “pistou.” Toss some in with a regular red sauce to get your kids to eat the vegetables they so adeptly push to the perimeter of their plates. If you don’t feel like bothering with pesto, you can strip the leaves from the stems, freeze them on a baking sheet, and then store them in tight Ziplock bags until you’re ready to use them.

Drink Your Greens

Farm to smoothie.

I’ll be the first to come out and say that I think that green juice is a scam. But smoothies? I am totally on board. If a kale smoothie sounds gross, well, a kale smoothie is gross… if you don’t add anything to it. Take those extra leaves and combine them with avocado, cocoa powder, and whatever frozen fruits you happen to have lying around in your freezer from last season, and you can enjoy the benefits of leafy greens without the fuss, muss, or—real talk here—taste. Warning: Greens like chard and kale tend to turn black if you allow them to oxidize, so add them to your VitaMix last, unless you’re a fan of the macabre.

Everything is Better with Pasta

Everything is better when you add pasta.

How do you solve a problem like too many mustard greens? Combine them with pasta, of course! And butter. Because: Why not? If greens have got you down, take solace in the fact that you’re embracing a healthy lifestyle. And then ruin it with pasta. Once you’ve removed the greens from their stems, cut them into a chiffonade and toss them in a pan with some butter to wilt. Add your pasta and some starchy water from the pasta pot for a sauce that’s almost-but-not-quite a healthy answer to carb-indulging.

Garlic, Lots of It

Wilt your greens.

If pasta isn’t the name of your game, you can make those greens into a pretty delicious side dish with no carbs at all. What’s the trick to converting your extra greens into something addictive? Garlic. In a hot sauté pan, sauté crushed garlic and olive oil until the garlic is fragrant (but not brown). Add your greens, along with a heavy hand of salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook until they have wilted and released their water. Add some fresh ground nutmeg to amplify their flavor before serving. If that feels like too much work, lay leaves of your favorite abundant green on a sheet pan, drizzle with oil, crushed garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook them for 10-15 minutes in a 400-degree oven for crispy green “chips.”

Soup’s on

It’s always good to have vegetable stock in your freezer.

Don’t throw away those stems, because they make an excellent base for soups. Toss chopped stems and an onion in a dutch oven and saute until the onion has browned. You can add whatever fresh herbs you happen to have on hand, as well as carrots, celery, or anything else you might need to get rid of. Cover the sautéed vegetables with water or stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain it off and you have an excellent—and easy—vegetable stock. As for the leaves, chop them finely and add them toward the end of cooking to any soup or stew. They will retain their vibrant green flavor and add an element of complexity to whatever you happen to be cooking.