Cooking greens, also known as “potherbs,” are leafy green vegetables which are among the most widely grown vegetables worldwide. The term “leafy greens” refers to vegetables like cabbage, endive, escarole, spinach, broccoli, rapini, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, Swiss chard and even dandelions. They are grown specifically for their leaves and stems, (though sometimes the stems are not edible.) Collards, which are considered to bring a year of good fortune if eaten on New Year’s Day, were cultivated and eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans. They are the oldest leafy green within the cabbage family.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch leafy greens, blanched (see below)
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt, to taste
Blanching is a technique used to soften vegetables before their final preparation. All leafy greens (except spinach) benefit from being blanched prior to sautéing. For greens with thick stems or ribs, separate these from the leaves, and place them in boiling water and cook them for about 5 minutes. Add the leafy pieces and stir with a wooden spoon until the water returns to a boil. As soon as the greens are a bit limp, (but not soggy looking) which should take another 3-5 minutes, remove the greens to a dry towel and drain briefly.
Heat olive oil in a heavy pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add parboiled greens (or spinach) and cook, turning occasionally for about 5 minutes until just starting to brown. Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper and took another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle water (up to 2 tablespoons as needed to keep the greens from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the garlic looks golden and the greens are slightly browned, remove to serving plate and salt to taste. Sprinkle with mollica for added texture.