Let’s talk about greens for a minute. Hearty greens, like mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, and sure, kale too. These are some of the few vegetables that actually benefit from what would normally be considered over cooking. Simmering these vegetables low and slow makes them become soft, drab green, and honestly pretty ugly. But guess what? They taste soooo good! And while they’re usually cooked along with a piece of smoked meat for extra flavor, you can also make a really rocking pot of vegetarian mustard greens.
What Do Mustard Greens Taste Like?
Mustard greens are part of a group of greens often referred to as “bitter greens” but as the greens simmer they become super tender, the bitterness mellows, and they take on almost rich flavor. Usually mustard greens, collard greens, and other hearty greens are cooked with some sort of salted pork, but you can still make a deep, smoky, rich pot of greens without the meat. A little bit of sugar is added to the greens to take the bitterness down just a little more, and the end result is a buttery rich and tender green that you’ll want to eat by the forkful.
How to Flavor Vegetarian Mustard Greens
To make sure these greens have maximum flavor without using smoked meat, I tossed in a hefty spoonful of smoked paprika for the smoky pork flavor, simmered them in vegetable broth for a extra depth, added a dash of sugar to balance the natural bitterness, and tossed in a pinch of red pepper flakes ‘cuz I love that kick! If you’re tempted to leave out the sugar, I’m going to have to plead with you not to do so on this one. It really makes a world of difference in the overall flavor.
What to Serve with Mustard Greens
I love mustard greens with anything BBQ flavored, so you can try them with BBQ Tofu Sliders, Loaded Mashed Potato Bowls, or BBQ Beef an Beans. I also love adding mustard greens to a big bowl of mac and cheese! Something about the creamy cheese and the greens just goes so well together.
Vegetarian Mustard Greens
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 2 cups vegetable broth* ($0.26)
- 1 lb. fresh mustard greens, stemmed and cut ($2.99)
- 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika ($0.15)
- 1/2 Tbsp sugar ($0.02)
- Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.05)
- If your mustard greens did not come pre-cut and with stems removed, run a sharp knife down the center of each leaf to remove the woody stems. Cut the remaining leaves into 2-inch strips. Rinse the cut leaves well in a colander.
- Slice the onion thinly and mince the garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat with the olive oil until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes). Add the vegetable broth and heat until steaming.
- Add the cut mustard greens, a couple handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted and there is room to add more to the pot. Once they’re all mostly wilted, add the smoked paprika, sugar, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired.
- Place a lid on the pot, allow the broth to come to a simmer, then turn down to medium-low. Let the pot simmer for at least 30 minutes, or longer if desired. Taste the greens and adjust the salt, pepper, or sugar if needed (if your broth is low-sodium, you may want to add salt at this time). Serve the greens with a slotted spoon to leave the excess broth behind.
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Love hearty greens? Try our Classic Collard Greens, Slow Simmered Black Eyed Peas with Greens, West African Peanut Stew, Colcannon, or Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta.
How to Make Mustard Greens – Step by Step Photos
I don’t know if this is only available in the south, but these massive bags of pre-cut mustard greens (they also have collard greens and kale) are super cheap and make preparation so easy. If you can find frozen mustard greens you can use those as well, although they are already partially cooked, so you mot likely will not need to simmer for 30 minutes. If you can only find fresh greens, remove the woody stems, then cut the leaves into 2-inch sections. Rinse the greens well in a colander.
Thinly slice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat with 1 Tbsp olive oil until the onions are soft and transparent (about five minutes).
I use Better Than Bouillon soup base to make my broth because it’s inexpensive, you can make as much or as little as you need (unlike with cubes), and this little jar lasts just about forever in your fridge.
Add two cups of vegetable broth to the pot and heat it through until steaming.
Begin to add the greens to the pot. They probably won’t all fit at once, so add about 1/3 of the bag and stir until they wilt, then add more and repeat until it’s all in the pot and mostly wilted (like above). Then add 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika, 1/2 Tbsp sugar, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.
Place a lid on the pot and and let the broth come to a simmer. Once it begins simmering, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer (with the lid in place) for at least 30 minutes. I find that it takes at least 30 minutes to become nice and tender, but you can actually let them go for quite a while. They’ll get sweeter and more tender the longer they’re cooked. Taste the greens and adjust the salt, pepper, or sugar if desired (using a low sodium broth may warrant adding a little salt at the end).
Greens are one of my favorite things to order when going to a “southern” style restaurant because they just let them cook all day and they’re absolutely glorious after simmering all day.
Despite cooking for a long time, they’re still high in nutrients like fiber, iron, and calcium. So, get your greens on! :D
Made a few modifications but..:. My VERY picky husband said these were the best greens he’d ever had so that’s a huge win.
First, I used collard greens in stead of mustard greens because that’s what I had on hand.
I also left out the paprika because I recently cleaned out my spice cabinet and was appalled at how many expired spices I had so I threw most of them away and forgot I didn’t have paprika.
I made a double batch because the collard greens were BOGO.
I let it simmer for about 3.5 hours.
They were amazing.
OMG, these were soooo good! I served them along with your green chile mac & cheese and some shredded BBQ jackfruit, and I think the mustard greens were my favorite part of the meal to my surprise!
Do you think I’d get similar results if I swapped out the mustard greens for kale? I buy kale more often because my local Aldi carries it but doesn’t sell mustard greens.
Yep, I think kale would also taste good this way. :)
This was a good recipe except I added smoked applewood sea salt and butter, and added spinach, thank you 😊
Made tonight as I bought mustards for a kimchi recipe but didn’t buy the Korean kind. This was perfect and a flavorful way to add some greens into my diet.
Delicious!!! I am diabetic so I didn’t add sugar to this recipe. I added green, yellow and red peppers. My home smells so fantastic.
I grew up on n Memphis so I am very familiar with growing, cleaning and cooking greens.
I am having fried okra (cooked in my air fryer) and tomato/onion/cucumber salad with tonight’s serving of greens. Next time cornbread sticks.
These were so delicious! Thank you for the great recipe for a mustard greens preparation. I’ll be making these as often as I can find mustard greens at the store.
Going to give these 5 stars, just on the basis of how they smell, and knowing I will enjoy them. I am making them now, with a bag of mustard greens from my winter CSA. Anything that will grow and thrive in New York during the winter is a miracle! Will serve them with some fresh ravioli, which I will toss with pesto. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!
I am from the south and am used to the greens cooked forever with meat. I’m so happy to have found this non-meat version. It is excellent! Just as good, if not better, than the traditional southern greens. Great recipe!!!! Thank you!
Hooray! Happy to hear it Cat!
Delish! I cooked it for about an hour.
Happy to hear it Maya!
Yum. Love this recipe. I served it with brown rice. It’s a keeper.
I had these tonight with chickpea meatloaf – SO YUMMY! It definitely took some patience not to eat them before they were “done”. :)