In my family, cooked greens are a staple. My great-grandmother Maria Grossi DiPrete made something she called “spinach pie,” basically an enormous calzone stuffed with nothing but cooked greens and a little bit of celery, that still makes an appearance at celebratory meals. As a child, I loved kale cooked with raw cashews, something my boyfriend refers to as “West Coast stem food.” Perplexingly, I took a long time to grow out of my dislike for spaghetti, but cooked greens were always easy to get me to eat.
Any chicory will work here, but I especially like to use strongly flavored ones like dandelion greens or puntarelle, as the blanching softens their assertive taste and makes the stems taste a little like asparagus. If you are especially sensitive to bitterness, this is also a great way to cook milder greens like spinach, chard, or even kale. Blanching first reduces the cooking time for the sauté, which helps avoid that burnt-garlic taste and lets you really crank the heat up, developing a nice crisp on the edges of some of the leaves. I eat this plain, in a bowl, or as a side dish for almost any protein. It’s an old standard in the aperitivo buffet.
|1||bunch chicory or other leafy green (puntarelle, dandelion greens, escarole, nettles, kale, chard, or spinach)|
|2||Tbsp. olive oil|
|2||garlic cloves, sliced thinly or minced, according to preference|
|~||Pinch of red-pepper flakes, to taste|
|~||Juice of 1 lemon|
|~||Pinch of salt, to taste|
Related article: Aperitivo time
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