Good intentions gone bad with leftover greens

Jun 9, 2014 by Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson

We’ve all been through it. We stock up on greens for a charter whose guests said they wanted to eat “healthy” and then they don’t want to eat the lovely salads or sides you’ve prepared. You have exactly one day left to get rid of those greens or eat the profits, meaning crew tips.


If there’s meat left over, that’s usually not a problem. Meat is easy as most chefs know what to do it to turn it into something you can freeze, but when it comes to an excess of fresh greens, a few tips and ideas might help.


Let’s say if you are stuck with eight bags of lettuce, spinach or some other sort of green such as arugula or kale. What would you do with it to use it up before the charter ran out? Simple: serve it. Here are a few ways to serve greens so you can use it all before it is too late.


Pair lettuce with orange to make a sorbet. That’s right, a sorbet, and even an ice cream. It is a great filler, and it is light. You want something light and refreshing  to cleanse the palate between courses, and lettuce fits the bill.


Simply put 2 cups of lettuce, 2 cups of fresh-cut oranges, 4 1/2 cups of ice and 1 cup of birch bark xylitol or other sugar into a Vitamix and process it into a sorbet. Freeze it. Lettuce lightens up the sorbet and gives it a much smoother taste in cleansing the palate.


You could make juice out of it by mixing it with any other leftover greens such as kale, spinach, a six carrots, two apples, six stalks of celery, two cucumbers and a lemon, processing it in a juicer.


Another idea is to chop the lettuce and put it into a large pot with cucumbers and lemon and boil it with four cups of water. Add in a spice ball filled with peppermint tea, let it steep for 5 minutes and then remove. Then process the liquid in a Vitamix.


Voila, you have Healthy Peppermint Tea, a great detox for the liver and kidneys. (You can even add alcohol to this tea to make a drink for happy hour.)


Actually, juicing is a great way to use up lots of greens. Spinach, kale and other rich greens all make a great component in healthy juices. Just be careful to balance them with lighter vegetables or even fruit such as lettuce, cucumbers, celery and apples, because the chlorophyll can be too heavy by itself.


Leftover greens can be sauteed and used in any remaining meals you have left to make for the guests, added to pasta, used together for a side dish, or just turned into plate decoration. I like to make a spinach pesto and add it to pasta. You can even incorporate it into bread.


Then there is always sauteed spinach, which takes quite a bit of fresh spinach to make, especially if you have 10 charter guests.


If, by morning, you still have leftover greens, incorporate them into omelets, pair them with sausage, or make a sweet potato hash and use some in that. Toss together cooked, cubed butternut squash with chopped spinach for a great breakfast side. You can also make an egg-and-greens frittata or spinach popovers for the guests.


A few little secrets can help you avert the wasteful scenario of too many greens and keep everyone healthy at the same time.


Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 20 years. Comments on this column are welcome at


About Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson

Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years.

View all posts by Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson →