Simple Sautéed Greens
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About this time of year every year, when roasted vegetables begin losing their appeal and when a cold salad just won’t cut it, I turn to an old favorite to get my roughage on the table: sautéed greens.
It’s a simple method, one you likely know, but one I think deserves highlighting for its ease and deliciousness. Every time I take a bite of garlicky, wilted escarole, I wonder why I relegate it to February fare, why it’s the dish I make when I’m feeling uninspired, when I lack the motivation to do more.
But why do more? Especially when in about five minutes total, escarole becomes meltingly tender, its bitterness softening, its heat warming to the core.
Most often these days, I serve the greens as a side dish, but they can be used as a meal building block, too: toss them with pasta or stir them into brothy chickpeas or plunge them into stock with sausage and white beans.
And while other greens such as kale, Swiss chard, and spinach all work well here, I love escarole not only for its flavor and silky texture but also for the minimal prep it requires: unlike kale or Swiss chard, which require stemming, escarole needs nothing more than a rough chop.
Do keep in mind, however, escarole can be dirty, in which case give the leaves a brief soak in cold water to allow the dirt to settle.
Incidentally, as you might gather from this post, I’m feeling somewhat uninspired in the kitchen. If you have time, I’d love to know what you’re cooking these days that’s exciting you. Let me know in the comments!
Simple Sautéed Greens, Step by Step
Gather your ingredients: about 1.5 lbs greens, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
Thinly slice the garlic.
Place the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
At the first sign of the garlic beginning to color…
… pile in the greens and season with salt.
Use tongs to quickly rearrange the greens and help them wilt down.
Let cool briefly, taste for salt, and adjust as needed.Print
Use this recipe as a guide. Other greens such as kale, Swiss chard, and spinach can be substituted for the escarole. With kale and Swiss chard, remove the stems. Swiss chard stems can be finely sliced and sautéed with the garlic.
- 1 head escarole, 1.25-1.5 lbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt to taste
- Cut off the end of the escarole and discard or compost. Roughly chop the escarole. If it’s dirty, place it in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the dirt to settle. Scoop out the escarole and transfer to a large towel or a colander to drain. The escarole does not have to be completely dry.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, place the oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for about a minute or until the garlic is sizzling. At the first sign of the garlic starting to color, add the greens, turn the heat to medium-high, and season with a pinch of salt. Use tongs to rearrange the greens in the skillet and to help them wilt down. In 1-2 minutes, the escarole will be done.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Let the greens cool briefly. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: escarole, greens, quick, sauté