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Super-savory cooking greens with bacon and feta make an equally irresistible side dish or simple lunch. Don’t miss them.

a bowl of cooking greens with bacon and feta
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Why we love this recipe

Whether you’ve got a prolific garden or farmers’ market in the summertime, or just a craving for beautifully prepared dark leafy greens, these cooking greens with bacon and feta are just the ticket. This recipe is:

  • Great with any type of cooking greens you’ve got
  • Super-savory and satisfying
  • Beautifully balanced
  • Flexible — make it lunch or a versatile side dish
  • Make-ahead friendly

I first published this recipe here in 2010, using beet greens. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and made a couple of gentle tweaks to the recipe. If you’d like to read the original text of the post, you can scroll down beneath the recipe card below.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Cooking greens” means basically any dark, leafy greens that stand up well to cooking. The term encompasses kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, dandelion greens, spinach, kohlrabi greens, leafy varieties of broccoli rabe, and chard, among others. You can use this recipe with any of those greens, or a combination.
  • You’ll want nice thick, meaty bacon for this recipe. You can buy slab bacon or, like I usually do, bacon that’s sold sliced about ¼-inch thick. Either way, cut it into small bite-sized pieces.
  • You can use any kind of feta that you like. Truth be told, I almost always gravitate toward the enormous blocks of tangy, mild-tasting cow’s milk feta sold in plastic tubs at Whole Foods.
  • I use lots of fresh garlic, which pairs brilliantly with dark leafy greens. You can adjust it according to your preference.
  • A little bit of chicken broth helps tenderize the greens.
  • Apple cider vinegar contributes a touch of tangy brightness to this recipe without being overly assertive. It helps to balance any bitterness in the greens.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a savory batch of cooking greens with bacon and feta. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll cook the bacon, then add and cook the garlic.
  2. Add the greens and sauté.
  3. Add the broth, cover, and braise until tender.
  4. Shortly before the end of cooking, stir in the vinegar. Transfer to a serving bowl and finish with feta. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Should I include the stems?

This depends on what types of greens you’re using. If you’re using collards or kale, strip the leaves from the stems before cooking. If you’re using a green with softer stems, you can include them. Follow the directions in the recipe card below to learn when to add them.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Fore sure. This recipe will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and can be reheated in the microwave. If you’re making it ahead on purpose, consider mixing in the feta right before serving — but leftovers will be great even if the reheated feta melts in a bit.

More favorite cooked leafy greens

a bowl of cooking greens with bacon and feta

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a bowl of cooking greens with bacon and feta
4.54 from 13 votes

Cooking Greens with Bacon and Feta

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
It's easy to eat your dark leafy greens when they're as incredibly savory and delicious as these cooking greens with bacon and feta. They make an equally irresistible side dish or simple lunch.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 as a side dish
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Ingredients 

  • 1 pound (454 grams) cooking greens
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) thick bacon
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth, see note
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 ounces (57 grams) feta cheese

Instructions 

  • Wash the greens and dry thoroughly.
  • Strip the greens from their stems and tear into large bite-size pieces. If the stems are tender (yes for beets, chard, dandelion, mustard, etc. / no for kale and collards), chop them into 1-inch segments.
  • Start with a skillet that is wide enough to embarrass you at the thought of using it to cook lunch for one.
  • Heat it on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
  • Chop the bacon into 1-inch pieces and add to the heated skillet.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is just shy of as crisp as you would like it and has given off plenty of fat. If there is more than about two tablespoons of fat in the pan, remove the rest.
  • If you will be cooking your stems, add them to the skillet now, along with the garlic. If not, just add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes.
  • Add the greens to the skillet and stir (preferably with tongs) to coat all the greens with a bit of bacon fat.
  • Cook uncovered for a few minutes, then add the broth, salt, and pepper.
  • Cover, lower the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook to desired tenderness, 5-15 minutes depending on which greens you've used.
  • Stir in the vinegar and cook, stirring, one minute more.
  • Transfer greens to a serving bowl and crumble the feta cheese overtop.
  • Give it a gentle stir to distribute if you like, and serve.

Notes

  1. "Cooking greens" means basically any dark, leafy greens that stand up well to cooking. The term encompasses kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, dandelion greens, spinach, kohlrabi greens, leafy varieties of broccoli rabe, and chard, among others. You can use this recipe with any of those greens, or a combination.
  2. You'll want nice thick, meaty bacon for this recipe. You can buy slab bacon or, like I usually do, bacon that's sold sliced about ¼-inch thick. Either way, cut it into small bite-sized pieces.
  3. You can use any kind of feta that you like. Truth be told, I almost always gravitate toward the enormous blocks of tangy, mild-tasting cow's milk feta sold in plastic tubs at Whole Foods.
  4. I use lots of fresh garlic, which pairs brilliantly with dark leafy greens. You can adjust it according to your preference.
  5. This recipe will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and can be reheated in the microwave. If you're making it ahead on purpose, consider mixing in the feta right before serving — but leftovers will be great even if the reheated feta melts in a bit.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal, Carbohydrates: 18.1g, Protein: 22.9g, Fat: 20.6g, Fiber: 11.4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Those are Michael Pollan’s word to live by. We’ve probably all heard them by now — but I’ll never forget how I felt when I first read them in his article Unhappy Meals, published in The New York Times in January, 2007. I’d held a similar food philosophy since childhood, and I’d already been acquainted with Pollan through The Omnivore’s Dilemma the year before.

But those words — ancient truths bursting with urgency in the modern moment — those words were different. They were a shiny new beginning and a ticket home, both. An unhappy corporate lawyer sat in my chair that morning and devoured the monstrous article in one sitting. She did not stop to speak with her family until she was through.

They haven’t heard the sound of silence since.

Small steps toward sustainability

Our local farmers’ market opened for the season last weekend. Every spring, I use this moment to return to Pollan’s words, to try to relive the feeling of digesting them for the first time, to channel my good but sometimes scattered intentions into that place where anything is possible. To borrow a little motivation from the master.

This year, thanks to all of you, my sources of inspiration are multiplying like the rabbits I can’t seem to bring myself to give Cope the thumbs-up to breed in the backyard. (We’re getting chickens, though, for reals. Wish us luck.) Your comments about small steps toward sustainability are quite the encouraging force.

Beyond beet greens

Your own small steps toward sustainability are so inspiring. Here’s what you said:

Cooking with kids

Cooking with kids is an especially rewarding endeavor. But, like anything else with kids, it can also be both harder than just doing the darn thing yourself and a lot less charming than it looks in commercials. Commenter Anja suggested watching a good cooking show on TV with your children and then trying to replicate the process at home immediately afterward. I love that idea for putting some of the organizational onus on a third party.

Cooking playgroups

Commenter Anna Muggiati holds a cooking playgroup with a few friends and their young children and blogs about it here. It’s not the smallest of small steps, but it’s a great idea and could be a lot of fun.

Cooking at home

Lots of you mentioned trying to cook at home more often, and with local ingredients where possible — and sharing stories, information and encouragement with friends. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to read that. These are true small steps, but they add up to a vast, and vastly important, result over time.

Sharing at school

A few of you mentioned something that I aspire to get more involved in but haven’t yet done: showing up at school in one capacity or another to share your knowledge and elbow grease with kids. Teach them about worms’ role in composting, help start a garden, or just dip a bell pepper in some hummus together once in a while. It’s the showing up that counts.

Fun & inclusivity

Commenter Stephanie stressed having fun and being inclusive in the pursuit of good food. It’s something the sustainability movement has struggled with in the past. Let’s get on that, people!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.54 from 13 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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11 Comments

    1. Hi Kim, as noted at the top of the recipe card, a serving is 1/4 of the recipe. The volume of the final dish will vary slightly based on how your greens cook down. Thanks!

  1. Carolyn,

    I am so happy to be the winner and have the book! I really like Pollan’s work and Food Rules is always a gift I like to give for my friends. My next step is to join a CSA soon, after coming back from vacation. Good luck with your chickens, I can’t wait to read about them : )

  2. Congrats on the chickens! I don’t have any myself, but my neighbor’s chickens do wander through my yard regularly. The plus side is that they like to eat bugs and slugs out of my garden. The minus side is that they REALLY like to eat zucchini out of my garden…

  3. I’m so envious of your chickens! Looking forward to hearing more about how that goes. I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now, but just can’t seem to bring myself to take that next step… maybe one of these days. For now, I’m lucky to live in No. Cal. where we can get local, organic eggs pretty easily.

  4. congrats on the chickens!!!
    we heard recently… hey… at least your father’s day shopping is done… & I know a little girl that will be thrilled to help collect eggs at some point! :o)
    and when you start those cooking playgroups, just lmk… hee hee…
    and any recommendations to try this sans bacon!? I know… I know… how dare I utter those words… but… ya know… what should I substitute?