Mustard Greens – Peppery, tangy, and packed with nutrients, mustard greens are a Southern cooking staple! Their unique taste lends a touch of creativity to any meal, and their versatility makes them perfect for everything from weeknight meals to holiday extravaganzas.
As a busy mom always trying to get her kid to eat his greens, this quick and easy recipe hits the spot with its irresistible flavor combinations! With this spicy comfort food on the table, you won’t have a hard time getting your family to eat their veggies. It’s the super fresh, smokey, spicy side dish you’ve been waiting for!
How Mustard Greens Taste
Mustard greens are the leafy greens from the mustard plant, the same plant from which we get mustard and mustard oil. The raw leaves have a unique peppery, tangy, and slightly bitter taste, not so different from mustard seeds. They mellow when cooked and take on a flavor profile similar to spinach but spicier and more full-bodied.
- Mustard Greens – Peppery mustard greens are the star of the show! Larger leaves tend give a greater kick of heat, whereas the smaller, more tender leaves are milder. The pound of mustard greens the recipe calls for should give you about 8 cups raw and 4 cups cooked.
- Bacon – It makes everything better! The saltiness counteracts the mustard greens’ slight bitterness to give them maximum flavor. Any smoked meat (ham hock, smoked turkey, smoked chicken, etc.) can substitute for bacon.
- Onion, Garlic, and Thyme – These aromatic veggies and herbs ramp up the flavor factor, adding a touch of sweetness and incredible flavor to the dish.
- Chicken Broth – It’s better than water because it adds flavor while keeping your mustard greens from drying out.
- Seasonings – Creole seasoning and red pepper flakes ramp up the spicy heat factor, then sugar balances it all.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – There’s something about vinegar that gives greens a fresh, bright flavor. Balsamic vinegar or lemon juice would work equally well.
How to Make Mustard Greens
- Cut the Greens – Start by pulling and tearing greens away from stems, then chop them by taking a handful of greens, rolling them up, and cutting the rolls horizontally into 3 or 4 slices, resulting in medium size 1-2-inch pieces.
- Clean Them – Next, place greens in an empty sink and wash them thoroughly with cold water, removing all grit, sand, and debris until the water runs clear. Set aside.
- Fry Bacon – Place the bacon in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Cook, frequently stirring, for about 5 minutes or until crisp. Take out half of the bacon from the pan and save it for later.
- Sauté Onion and Garlic – Add onion and garlic to the pot and sauté till the onion is translucent and fragrant (3-4 minutes).
- Combine and Simmer – Next, add the greens to the pot and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until they wilt. Once the mustard greens have wilted and some moisture has evaporated, add the broth, Creole seasoning, pepper flakes, sugar, and vinegar. Stir to combine and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the greens are tender. Uncover the pot, season greens with salt and pepper to taste, and add more broth if needed. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Serve – Sprinkle your greens with the rest of the bacon and serve.
- This recipe works with other leafy greens, as well. Try combining the mustard greens with kale, spinach, collards, or dandelion greens for delicious and distinctive flavor combinations.
- For a truly spectacular side dish, garnish your greens with a grated Parmesan, toasted sunflower seeds, or pine nuts for extra texture and crunch.
Pro Tip: How to Choose the Best Mustard Greens
When shopping for mustard greens, avoid bunches with seeds because those leaves are especially hot and bitter. Greens that are young, crisp, and have a deep green color will give you the ultimate taste experience!
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
Raw mustard greens can be stored in the fridge for about a week. Store them unwashed in a bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer until you’re ready to use them.
Cooked mustard greens can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge, but I recommend using them within a couple of days for optimum taste. Another option is to freeze them in a ziplock bag for up to three months.
What to Pair with Mustard Greens
For a true Southern extravaganza, I like pairing this deliciousness with Southern Cornbread, Southern Fried Okra, and Cajun Stuffed Chicken or Blackened Catfish. However, they also complement Smoked Pork Chops and Pulled Pork.
- 1 pound mustard greens, cleaned, stems removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- ½-1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Start by pulling and tearing greens away from stems, then chop them by taking a hand full of greens, rolling them up, and cutting the rolls horizontally into 3 or 4, resulting in approximately 1½-inch pieces.
- Next, place greens in a clean sink and wash them thoroughly with cold water removing all grit, sand, and debris until the water becomes clear. Set aside.
- Place bacon in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Cook, frequently stirring, for 5-6 minutes or until crisp. Remove half the bacon from the pan and reserve it for later on.
- Add onion, garlic, and thyme to the pot, and sauté until the onion is translucent and fragrant (3-4 minutes). Next, add the greens to the pot and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until wilted.
- Once mustard greens have wilted, add broth, Creole seasoning, pepper flakes, sugar, and vinegar. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and continue simmering for 25-30 minutes or until the greens are tender. Uncover the pot, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add more broth if needed. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Sprinkle the rest of the bacon on top and serve.