Cook to Get Cut: 5 Healthy Recipes Starring Mustard Greens

When you’re looking to get lean, exercise is only half the equation. You can do all the crunches in the world, but the foods you eat are every bit as important. As part of our Cook to Get Cut series, we’ll show you how to use some of the healthiest eats to sculpt your physique without sacrificing flavor. 

When shopping for vegetables at the grocery store, reaching for a few bunches of greens is a no-brainer. So much so that it’s easy to find yourself going for spinach or kale every time. As great as these leafy veggies are, mustard greens deserve a little more love. These peppery greens are low in calories, high in fiber, and pack whopping doses of vitamins A, C, and K. Start filling your plate with these five recipes.

1. Egg Sandwich with Mustard Greens and Avocado

toast toped with wilted greens a a sunny side-up egg

Toast with greens and an egg | Source: iStock

Few morning meals are as satisfying as a breakfast sandwich. While typical fillings include copious amounts of cheese and bacon, you can make something just as delicious with healthier ingredients. Take Food & Wine’s savory egg sandwich with mustard greens, for example. It’s brimming with fiber-rich greens, protein-packed eggs, and healthy fats from avocado. A little bit of hot sauce is the perfect finishing touch.

Loading this sandwich with mustard greens is a good choice for anyone, but maybe even more so for men. According to research published in Nutrition and Cancer, diets rich in brassica vegetables, which includes mustard greens, are linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil, divided
  • 1 pound mustard greens, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 large Hass avocado, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 slices whole-grain bread, toasted and buttered
  • Hot sauce

Directions: In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat. Add greens and cook, stirring until tender, about 1½ minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl. Keep warm.

In a small bowl, mash avocado. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt.

Add remaining oil to same skillet set over medium heat. Add eggs to pan and season with salt. Cook until whites are crisp, about 1 minute. Flip eggs and cook until whites are set and yolks are runny, about 2 minutes longer.

Spread avocado on 4 toast slices. Top evenly with greens, eggs, and a drizzle of hot sauce. Close sandwiches with remaining toast slices, cut in half, and serve.

2. Mustard Green and Roasted Garlic Pesto with Pecorino-Romano Cheese

pesto made with winter greens or nettles on hearty bread

Winter greens pesto | Source: iStock

If you typically reach for basil when making pesto, change things up with mustard greens. Martha Stewart Living’s version with roasted garlic is a great choice. The peppery flavor mellows a bit with the addition of the slightly sweet garlic while a little bit of cheese adds just enough richness. The spread tastes great on sandwiches, tossed with pasta, stirred into a morning scramble, or dolloped on a bowl of soup.

If you often find yourself feeling famished when trying to eat healthier, going for greens like spinach, kale, and mustard greens is a good strategy. One of the reasons has to do with their high levels of filling fiber, but there may be more to the picture. These vegetables are high in thylakoids, compounds that researchers think may promote a feeling of fullness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium garlic heads
  • 1¼ ounces almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
  • ½ large bunch mustard greens, stems discarded, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap garlic in foil and roast until completely tender, about 1 hour. Let cool, then squeeze garlic from skins, and discard skins.

Pulse garlic, almonds, oil, cheese, mustard greens, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of water, and some pepper in a food processor until it forms a thick paste. Serve or refrigerate for up to three days.

3. Baked Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens, Leeks, White Beans, and a Cilantro Tahini

pile of raw mustard green leaves

Mustard greens | Source: iStock

There’s a good chance you have at least one vegan in your life. Cooking for these pals can be a struggle since a lot of us usually resort to meat or dairy to compose a satisfying main course. If you make these baked sweet potatoes with greens and beans from What’s Cooking Good Looking, everybody wins. The meal is delicious, hearty, and super easy.

Since most of us don’t get enough fiber in our diets, this meal is a complete all-star. Nearly every ingredient is brimming with the nutrient, which is good for more than just keeping you regular. Scientists are finding more evidence that fiber is crucial for keeping our gut bacteria healthy, which may reduce the risk of obesity.

Ingredients:

Sweet potatoes and assembly

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 5 to 6 mustard green leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small leek, cleaned and diced
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup water

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the tines of a fork to prick potatoes all over. Lightly coat skins with olive oil, set on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet, and transfer to oven. Bake until completely tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cilantro, tahini, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse to combine. With motor running, stream in water. You may or may not need all of it, depending on the consistency you prefer. Set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan set over medium heat. Add garlic and leeks. Cook, stirring, until softened, but not brown. Stir in mustard greens and continue to cook until slightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add beans, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, split each open. Season insides with salt and pepper. Drizzle potatoes lightly with olive oil. Evenly divide mustard green mixture among potatoes. Drizzle with sauce and serve at once.

4. Warm Salad of Greens, Italian Sausage, and Potatoes

sloce up of kale cooked with onion and sausage

Kale with sausage and onion | Source: iStock

If you think salads are insubstantial meals consisting of mostly lettuce, you might want to give Eating Well’s rendition with mustard greens, potatoes, and sausage a try. It’s every bit as healthy as your usual side dish, yet hearty enough to make a complete meal. This dish also tastes great cold, so pack leftovers for lunch.

While there’s no guaranteed way to stay mentally sharp during old age, medical professionals certainly don’t think eating a healthy diet could hurt. Foods with plenty of vitamin K, such as mustard greens, might be among the best. One recent study published in Nutrients found older adults who consume high levels of vitamin K tend to maintain better cognitive function.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound mustard greens or kale, trimmed, washed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • ½ pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, but left whole
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions: Bring 2 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a large, wide pan. Add greens, cover, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and ½ cup water, if needed. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, brown sausage with fennel seeds in a small skillet set over medium heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain fat. Cut sausage into ½-inch-thick slices. Add to potatoes and greens.

Whisk oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to combine. Add to bowl with sausage, potatoes, and greens. Toss to coat and serve.

5. Quick Steamed Flounder with Ginger-Garlic Mustard Greens

flounder fillets on wilted spinach

Flounder with spinach | Source: iStock

Steaming is one of the easiest ways to cook food without adding a bunch of unnecessary fat while still delivering plenty of flavor. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need special equipment to try the method. Get started with The New York Time’s quick fish and mustard green recipe. You start by cooking the aromatics in a bit of oil, then add the greens, soy sauce, and some water. Add the fish, cover the pan, and you’ll have perfectly steamed fillets in about 6 minutes.

Most health-conscious eaters look to steaming as a way to trim calories, but the method may give your meal even more of a boost. One 2008 study found steaming leafy vegetables, including mustard greens, increases their ability to slow bile reabsorption, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The great taste is just a bonus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, plus more
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (1-inch-thick) slice peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 small bunches mustard greens, cleaned, stemmed, and torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more
  • 2 (12-ounce) flounder fillets
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Heat both oils in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mustard greens, soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons water. Cook until greens begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Spread greens into an even layer. Season fish with salt and pepper and place on top of greens. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium, and let fish steam until just cooked, about 6 minutes. If pan becomes dry, add a bit more water.

Uncover pan and transfer fish to plates. Cook off any excess moisture from greens, then transfer to plates with fish. Serve drizzled with additional soy sauce and sesame oil.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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