When I think of a healthy side dish to put on the table, the first thing that always pops into my head is a bowl of cooked greens. Cooking down a giant pot of greens lets you take in a huge quantity of nutrients from a relatively small serving. The trouble is, big pots of greens often don’t taste so good.
This recipe is, so far as I have found in all my time cooking, the very best way to cook greens. I’ve done it with kale, I’ve done it with spinach, I’ve done it with dandelion greens and all manner of other foraged wild plants, it is delicious with all of them. This method is perfect for bitter greens, as the blanching removes much of the bitter flavor, creating a finished dish that is palatable even to picky eaters, but also works just fine with tender, mild greens.
This method is used throughout the Mediterranean region, often with whatever greens can be foraged locally at the time. While the ingredients likely used to vary from village to village, a dish of cooked greens with plenty of olive oil and some garlic for flavor is about as healthy and delicious as it gets. Give it a shot with your favorite greens–you will not be disappointed.
4 cups greens (dandelion, kale, whatever you want), washed and chopped into ~2” pieces)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp crushed red pepper
Salt + Pepper
Blanch your washed and chopped greens in salted water until the stems are tender, around ten minutes. Once cooked, drain the greens in a colander. Press out excess moisture. This step can be done well ahead. If you have a bag of spinach in the fridge that is nearing its expiration, give it a blanche now and finish the cooking later, when you are ready to eat it.
Once the greens are cooked and drained, start a skillet medium heat and add your olive oil. Once it is hot, add the garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook these until the aroma is excellent, but be sure you do not burn the garlic. If it gets close to burning, remove the garlic from the pan. Add the cooked and drained greens to the pan and sauté until well mixed and heated through, just a minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the greens to a plate and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.