10 Clever Ways to Use Your Leftover Leafy Greens

A bag of leafy greens is one of the most versatile ingredients you can have in your refrigerator. Greens are nutrient-dense and easy to use. Plus, they don’t require much in terms of preparation besides a quick rinse and a pat dry.

However, bagged greens do have one tiny drawback—they’re perishable. You might buy a bag of greens thinking it will last you a few weeks, only to find your greens starting to wilt a few days later. 

But this is no cause for concern. Because even as your bagged spinach and kale slowly loses its crunch, it can still be added by the handful to a variety of dishes. And we’re not talking about your simple salad here. You can make bagged greens key components of your pasta dishes, quesadillas, and curries, using spinach as the foundation of a shepherd’s pie or incorporating kale into risotto or tacos.  Soups, smoothies, pesto, sauces, and dressings are other places to add those extra greens before they go bad.

This Monday, check out the meatless recipes below to see how you can get creative with your leftover kale and spinach.

Big Greens Soup with Toasted Almonds

Use all your leftover vegetables in one pot with this nutritious deep green soup. White sweet potato adds a natural starchiness that gives the soup a creamy texture without relying on any cream or dairy.  This recipe calls for a combined SIXTEEN cups of spinach and kale, but using less won’t drastically affect the consistency or flavor of the soup. For the Big Greens Soup with Toasted Almonds from Robin Asbell, click here.

Fruit and Veggie Protein Smoothies

This refreshing smoothie is a convenient way to use up leftover greens. All you need is spinach or kale, your favorite frozen fruit, protein powder, and a cup of plant-based milk. Give it all a pulse in your smoothie maker for a quick, healthy breakfast.

For the Fruit and Veggie Protein Smoothie recipe, click here.

kale potato carrot curryKale, Potato and Carrot Curry

A curry is a great place to use up those vegetables you may have lingering about your fridge.  And although the flavors of a curry are complex, the preparation is pretty simple. A can of coconut milk, fresh ginger, and a collection of spices are all you need to get going on your own homemade curry. After making it once or twice, you can tinker with the recipe to get everything exactly to your liking.  For the Kale, Potato, and Carrot Curry recipe from I Try to Eat Healthy, click here.

One-Pot Creamy Vegan Tuscan Kale Pasta

Pasta can be so much more than spaghetti and red sauce. Spinach, kale, and other cooked vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, or bell peppers can be easily folded into an ordinary pasta dish to boost its nutrient content and heft. This one pot creamy kale pasta, uses a yummy homemade cashew cream sauce to bring an Alfredo-like taste and texture to the pasta. For the One-Pot Creamy Vegan Tuscan Kale Pasta recipe from Shanika of Orchids + Sweet Tea, click here.

Potato and Spinach Tacos

Tortillas can be your best friend when you need to make a quick meal. Loading them up with diced potato and sautéed spinach makes for a satisfying meatless bite. Sprinkle on your favorite toppings, like salsa, guac, hot sauce, or just a simple squeeze of lime. If you’re really looking to impress, heat the tortillas quickly in a pan before loading on the ingredients. For the Potato and Spinach Tacos recipe from Nancy of Mexican Made Meatless, click here.

Quinoa Kale Risotto with Pistachios

Cooking quinoa “risotto-style” takes a little extra time, but it’s well worth the effort. Once you have a creamy risotto all ready, fold in the kale, lemon zest, pistachios, and any other vegetables or legumes you may have on hand. For the Quinoa Kale Risotto with Pistachios recipe from Sharon Palmer, click here.

Roasted Garlic Parsnip Spinach Shepherd’s Pie

If you need a centerpiece for a celebratory meal, look no further than this plant-based shepherd’s pie. The filling of the pie is a mixture of cooked onions, spinach (you can use kale, too), carrots, and white beans, all cooked down with a creamy roux for a smooth consistency. Top the mixture with dollops of parsnip puree for a sweet bite and beautiful presentation. For the Roasted Garlic Parsnip Spinach Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Robin Asbell, click here.

Smoky Grits and Greens

If you’re not familiar with grits, then you need to put this ingredient on your recipe radar. Grits are basically pulverized cornmeal that you can cook with water and any other seasonings to create a creamy, porridge-like texture. Grits are a great foundation for a meal because you can top them with any variety of cooked vegetable, plant-based meat, or leafy green. For the Smoky Grits and Greens recipe from Chef Jumoke Jackson, click here.

Spicy Vegan Burrito Bowls

Layering warm/cool/cold ingredients into a burrito bowl makes for a more satisfying meal than an ordinary salad. You can use any combination of grains, roasted vegetables, greens, and dressings. This recipe calls for a fresh and tangy avocado sauce, spicy chipotle cauliflower, and zesty lime rice—all over a big bed of leafy greens.  For the Spicy Vegan Burrito Bowl recipe, click here.

Vegan Breakfast Quesadilla with Southwest Tofu Scramble

Another clever way to use up excess spinach and kale is to stuff it in a quesadilla. Anything sandwiched between two tortillas ends up tasting pretty good, but this combination of tofu scramble, hash browns, plant-based chorizo, and spinach will have you feeling full and satisfied until way beyond lunchtime.

For the Vegan Breakfast Quesadilla with Southwest Tofu Scramble recipe from Good Food Baddie, click here.

Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.