Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
4 Feb

Raw Greens with Garlic Paprika Dressing and Quick-Cooked Greens with Bacon Vinaigrette

The world of greens is vast and sometimes overwhelming, including everything from the easily recognizable (spinach and lettuce) to the less well-known (tat soi and purslane). Somewhere in the middle are greens like kale, Swiss Chard, mustard, collard and dandelion that share not only rising popularity but also a similar flavor and texture. The great thing about these dark leafy greens, and also what can take some getting used to, is that they taste as if they were ripped from the earth only minutes before you bought them. Theses greens are deliciously earthy, wild, pungent and sturdy. The studies proving their health benefits only confirm what your palate intuitively tells you when you’re chewing a mouthful of kale – this stuff is healthy.

As bold as they are, dark leafy greens are incredibly accommodating when it comes to cooking methods and additional flavors. They can be prepared raw, sautéed, briefly boiled, simmered in soups or cooked down for hours with animal fat. They can stand up to hot peppers, raw onions and a fatty piece of pork or transform into an elegant salad when dressed in little more than a drizzle of olive oil and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

The first recipe here is a smoky, garlicky dressing that tastes especially good with the bitter, peppery bite of raw dandelion greens, kale, arugula and spinach. Spiked with garlic and laced with sweet, smoky paprika, it’s dressing with attitude. Raw greens soak the dressing right up, becoming softer, fattier and more satisfying.

The second recipe is rich and meaty, thanks to crispy chunks of bacon and a vinaigrette made from warm bacon fat, vinegar and shallot. Greens can be quickly sautéed in the dressing so they maintain some crispness or cooked longer for a soft, silky texture. Sturdy greens like collard, mustard, kale and Swiss chard are a great choice whenever bacon is involved.

Both recipes illustrate how easy it is to turn greens into a satisfying side dish or salad. The trick is simple: add a little bit of fat, a little bit of acidity (from lemon or vinegar) and a bold flavor (garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, spices) and any green you find at the market will shine.

Tips for Preparing Greens

If you’re planning to heat the greens, don’t worry about over-buying; what looks like a huge bunch wilts down into a mere one or two servings when cooked.

Thoroughly wash greens by immersing them in a sink or bowl of water. If pre-washing your greens before refrigerating, make sure they dry completely before you refrigerate them. Stored loosely packed in a Ziploc bag or sealed container with a paper or cloth towel, dark leafy greens will keep 5-7 days and salad greens 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

When buying greens like kale and mustard, smaller leaves mean a milder flavor and more tender texture.

Keep in mind that greens with thicker leaves and stems like kale, mustard greens, chard and dandelion usually require some trimming no matter how you cook them. Tearing or cutting the leaves into thin strips will help keep them from being so chewy. Whether you eat the entire stem or not is personal preference. The thicker the stem, the tougher it will be. Either chop the stems up very thinly or discard the thickest parts entirely.

Even after trimming, if you’re worried about a particular type of green being too tough then plunge it into boiling water for 3-5 minutes, drain and then gently squeeze out excess water. You can do this before sautéing or stir-frying greens.

Raw Greens with Garlic Paprika Dressing


  • 1 – 2 bunches of greens
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped/mashed anchovy fillets
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teasopon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Optional: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, paprika and salt. Let this mixture sit while you clean and trim the greens. Cut or tear greens into thin strips. Dry greens in a salad spinner or shake off water and pat with a towel.

Slowly pour olive oil into the vinegar/lemon mixture, whisking as you go until the oil is fully incorporated.

Pour as much dressing as you desire onto greens. Toss well. Top, if you like, with grated cheese.

Wilted Greens with Warm Bacon Dressing


  • 1 large or two smaller bunches of greens
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt or black pepper to taste


Cut greens into thin strips. Stems can be removed or chopped up as well.

In a large skillet, cook bacon pieces over medium heat.

Just as the bacon starts to get crispy, raise heat to medium high and add the shallot. Sauté about 30 seconds then add the vinegar. Simmer vigorously for one minute so the vinegar bubbles and reduces just a bit.

Add the greens. Mix the greens as they wilt so that everything gets coated in the dressing. The greens can be cooked just a few minutes or much longer, depending on your preference of tenderness. If you end up cooking the greens more than five minutes, turn the heat down a little.

Add sea salt and/or black pepper to taste. Serve warm.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. A tip about the stems and stalks of the heartier greens: I am not sure if they confer any special nutritional benefit, but I usually chop up the remaining stems and saute them along with other vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, etc). The stem (stalk?) from red chard is especially tasty. Makes a good “crunchy” addition to curries, stir fry, or even salad.

    These recipes look great. Thanks, Worker Bee. Any type of greens tossed in bacon fat is just about my favorite meal ever.

    MC wrote on February 4th, 2012
    • In fact, here is a link to one of my favorite cooking sites with a dish using Swiss Chard stems (just to prove it is edible. Ignore the pasta part!):

      (obviously, she is a grain eater. However, many of her recipes can be modified to be primal friendly or are “accidentally” primal).

      MC wrote on February 4th, 2012
    • I do the same, especially with the kale. Just adds another “dimension” to the dish du jour.

      These saturday recipes have been glorious!

      Peggy wrote on February 4th, 2012
  2. This will go great with the BBQ chicken we’re doing tomorrow.

    OC Hugh wrote on February 4th, 2012
  3. My mother and grandmother made wilted greens all summer long. Has remained a favorite dish to this day. The ingredients are the same except for the vinegar….apple vinegar was the only vinegar I knew of in the house in the 50s. Red wine vinegar made its debut in the 60s. Now I have an assortment……

    Dragonfly wrote on February 4th, 2012
  4. I don’t use much paprika in my meals, even though I love the flavor. For dandelion, I haven’t had the chance at it, but if it’s similar to kale then I’m sure I’ll like it a lot. I’ll have to give this dressing a shot.


    Mitchell wrote on February 4th, 2012
  5. Thanks for the salad dressing idea. I’ve been using homemade mayo based dressings and I just have to use so much to coat the salad so I can eat it. I keep forgetting that I can use so much less if I use an olive oil & vinegar version. I just put one together to take to work this week.

    Shayne wrote on February 4th, 2012
  6. The stems are tough. If you are using the colorful Swiss Chard, I recommend the stems sliced at a bias and tossed in stir fryes (probably the least toughest stems). Also, when I worked at a restaurant, we used a lot of scrap veggies, stems and end pieces to make vegetable stock. We weren’t wasting product, and it’s a lot nicer to use a flavored stock than just water when making soups and sauces.

    Florence wrote on February 4th, 2012
  7. I just made a huge batch of Kale chips.
    You gave me the idea to toss then in bacon drippings and add crushed bacon to the next bowl.
    Thanks for the recipes, I’m new to this and always am glad for information on the right foods to choose.

    Sarah Martini wrote on February 4th, 2012
  8. How timely of you Mark. I’m trying to get more greens in my diet and I’m not a big salad fan. These might just change my mind on greens being boring!

    Raclbaby2000 wrote on February 4th, 2012
  9. Hi Mark
    I have been primal for a couple of weeks and I am doing well, I think! Today I was stuck for what to make for my dinner and I came across your greens and bacon vinegarette. I just made this lovely meal only to drop the vinegar into my dish and spoil the whole thing. Thanks for the idea though.:)

    Charmaine wrote on February 4th, 2012
  10. I love fresh salads in the warm months and hot/wilted salads in the cool months. The wilted greens with bacon recipe (above) is basically how I make wilted lettuce salad. I use balsamic vinegar and romaine hearts most of the time. Can get both at Costco at a good savings – although the best grade of balsamic (Colavita aged 8 years) there seems to have been a one time special purchase. Balsamic vinegar is like a lot of other food products – varies greatly in quality and needs to be examined carefully for authenticity.

    rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
  11. Darn it! I just sauteed mustard greens and curly kale and green onion. to go with my beef tongue. wish I saw this 30 min ago!!!!!!!

    good thing I have some greens left!

    PaleoDentist wrote on February 4th, 2012
  12. can’t wait to try these! I have mustard greens, kale, arugula, spinach and kohlrabi greens to try! Guess I better get some bacon!

    ChiroLisa wrote on February 4th, 2012
  13. They may be tasty, but are probably unnecessary for anyone’s health. I’ve eaten greens only a few times a year for the last decade and am in excellent shape & health.
    I do use quite a lot of root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, yams, potatoes, onions, etc) and fungi, but salads are just too inconvenient for what you get.

    John wrote on February 4th, 2012
  14. Mmm…Both of these salads look delicious! Thanks for more great recipes!

    Marjorie wrote on February 4th, 2012
  15. Hmmm, thought I’d posted way earlier but not here…..

    Anyway, this looks like a great way to use leftover bacon if we ever have any. LOL Very much looking forward to making the bacon dressing and wilting the spinach/other greens just enough to be thyroid-friendly. :-) I remember my grandmother making us dandelion greens with a similar dressing, but hers was sweetened, and I’m not a fan of sweet’n’sour. This, though, I could sell to my kids!

    deb wrote on February 4th, 2012
  16. note to self: don’t read saturday MDAs on a hungry stomach. I just came home with all the stuff to make greens & bacon AND scotch eggs. Food for the week!!

    peggy wrote on February 4th, 2012
    • oops! gonna eat all the greens in one sitting. These are GOOD! I did kale & chard mixed (with the pretty chard stems added) & red onion instead of shallot. couldn’t decide between sherry & red wine vinegar, so I did both

      peggy wrote on February 4th, 2012
  17. I got some tat soi at the last farmers’ market (something new to me) and it’s delicious and very mild flavored so good both raw and wilted.

    Nancy wrote on February 4th, 2012
  18. Although I have been eating Paleo since May, I was still have stomach issues. This past week I have upped my greens, at least twice a day, one green smoothie and one side dish and I have been 100% better! Whatever is in them I must have been needing.

    Wendy wrote on February 5th, 2012
    • I had lots of stomach issues pre-paleo. The switch helped enormously, as did something that took me a while to discover: coconut oil. You might like to spoon a bit into your smoothies. It’s also delicious drizzled on fruit (especially frozen berries). If you can believe it, it’s good drizzled on grapefruit. And you can put some in your coffee and tea too. Hope this helps you :-)

      Susan Alexander wrote on February 5th, 2012
  19. Finally, more recipes from someone who enjoys the health benefits and potential flavors of greens as much as I do! I look forward to trying this!

    Lori wrote on February 5th, 2012
  20. Perfect timing. Was planning a kale and spinach salad to go with the big honkin’ t-bone before the game. Thanks!

    Paul Bourret wrote on February 5th, 2012
    • There’s a game?

      John DM wrote on February 5th, 2012
  21. Mmmmmmm … just made the warm greens and bacon. Did it a bit differently from the recipe. Here’s how:

    I QUADRUPLED the amount of bacon and greens.

    I cooked the bacon (2 lbs) in the oven (on 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper; 400 degrees for about 15 minutes)

    i transferred the cooked bacon and all the drippings into a big empty bowl. Then I crumbled the bacon and added ONE minced shallot.

    I completely left out the vinegar.

    I lightly steamed the greens, and added them to the big bowl, mixing all the ingredients with my hands.

    For greens, I used a combo of arugula, spinach, chard, and Kale.

    Yum!!!! Thanks. I ate a little more than 1/4 of the total and I’m very full. Lots of leftovers for later.

    Susan Alexander wrote on February 5th, 2012
  22. Yummmm! Hubby and I adored the sauted greens..the kids were kinda iffy on them, but we loved them! And the greens were even excelent cold too.

    Karen wrote on February 7th, 2012
  23. You had me at “Bacon Vinaigrette”

    Jared wrote on February 8th, 2012
  24. Wow! Just made the sauteed greens…fabulous. My 7 YO asked for seconds, too, even more unbelievable!

    Tricia wrote on February 22nd, 2012
  25. Dandelion greens with hot bacon dressing are a springtime treat, because that was the only time you could eat them. They are unusable after the buds appear. The yellow flowers can be made into wine! Anyway, the bacon with the greens is just crumbled on top, the grease is used for a flavorful base for the vinegar and sugar. It is thickened with a egg and poured over the wilted greens. Our was served with fried potatoes with a hard cooked egg cut on top with the crumbled bacon. I think I’d substitute a good piece of ham or Canadian bacon rather than more bacon!

    Jann from PA wrote on January 28th, 2013

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