Managing farm share kale with a simple mess o’ greens

As usual at this time of year, Gourmandistan can’t help buying fresh green things at farmers’ markets. We’ve enjoyed snap peas, spring onions, broccoli, asparagus and other vegetables we know we’ll only see for a few weeks. Adding the more perishable items from our weekly CSA, we’ve had many things more pressing (and beautiful) to prepare than long-keeping kale. As the kale kept coming, the bunches began to crowd out everything in our crisper compartments. We needed to do something about it, and Michelle realized that sometimes the simplest solution is also the best. So she turned to Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen for some barely-needed guidance towards a mess o’ greens.

You can’t have greens without vinegar.

While Steve doesn’t share Michelle’s generations-old family tradition of greens and “pot likker” as staple side dish, he’s been in the South long enough that they’re a familiar (and often disappointingly boring) sight. But if you have some fine country ham, good chicken broth and a bit of honey and cider vinegar along with the will to chop up a mountain of relatively fresh organic greens, cooking down kale, collards and other farm share stuff can be downright delicious, if not the most attractive thing to photograph. We enjoyed our latest batch through several meals, sometimes even as a main dish with jammy eggs and corn cakes. As our farmer Pavel shows no sign of slacking off the kale, we’re pretty sure we’ll make another enjoyable mess in the near future.


(adapted from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen)

  • Olive oil
  • An ounce or two of country ham, in small dice
  • Lots of greens (kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, collards or a mix thereof)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chicken broth (preferably homemade)
  • Honey
  • Cider vinegar

Remove (and discard) the stems from the greens and chop the leaves into large pieces.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ham and cook until crispy.

Add the greens, a bit at a time, tossing as they wilt. Add some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Add enough broth to cover the wilted greens. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer for about half an hour, adding more stock if necessary.

When greens are almost done, add a bit of honey and vinegar to taste and stir. Check seasoning.

Serve with additional vinegar and maybe some eggs, hard- or soft-boiled.


  1. Eha

    Absolutely love this and have way’a’longer season to enjoy it here Down Under! Have tears of laughter in my eyes – what a difference half a lifetime+ makes 🙂 ! Remember being a small 5-year-old sitting facing just this, including hardboiled eggs, about 2-3 times a week at lunchtime way up in Northern Europe and being told I could not leave the table until I had emptied the plate . . . as it got colder and colder . . . just imagine . . . Naturally no chilli or honey or vinegar! Shall remember this next time I have a ‘mess’ on my plate to finish super quick time . . . . 🙂 !

    • Isn’t it interesting what a small world it really is? I love the thought of a little Northern European girl with her greens and eggs. I was probably doing much the same here (yuck, this again??). There are few things a little heat and sugar and vinegar don’t improve!

  2. You just gave me an idea to make kale, etc. palatable to my “never-kale” husband. Honestly, short of drizzling chocolate all over it, I didn’t believe there was any hope of convincing him to put a forkful in his mouth. But, as a lover of southern American literature (Faulkner being a favourite) maybe I can convince him that to really enjoy and understand his favourite writers he needs to experience a mess of greens. Maybe? Or is too much of a reach? Worth a shot? Signed, Canadian kale lover.

  3. Angela@eatlivehappy

    Looks delicious! I love going to the farmers market and those awesome summer fruit and veggie stands. They always have the best tasting stuff!

  4. I’m one of the ones that loves a mess o’ greens. I agree about the vinegar but I’ve never had them with honey…can’t wait to give that a try the next time I make some.

  5. Colin

    I grew up with that exact glass vinegar thing. Greens like this are usually my favorite part of whatever meal they’re a part of. Last huge pot I made hade two entire racks of pork look ribs that I smoked and shredded up into the greens, it was killer. I’d suggest you get some pepper sauce/pepper vinegar to serve them with too; in my mind you can’t have greens without that. Use roughly equal parts ACV, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar and distilled white vinegar (or any combo of those that’s got at least one clear vinegar), and a ton of fresh, green Tabasco peppers. I’m sure bird’s eye would work too. Some recipes call for boiling with a bit of sugar but I hardly ever do, usually I just keep adding peppers and topping off the bottle over and over and don’t feel like straining it all out into a saucepan to simmer.

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