My Favorite Greens

featured2I intended to post a recipe on green tea-dusted shamrock-shaped brownies for St. Patrick’s Day, but didn’t quite get there… Healthy green stuff will have to do. And it should be “green” because we’re talking about chicories, and they run from white to red to green.

Ever since our trip to Rome in October I’ve been scouring the markets for anything in the chicory family. The pickings were pretty slim for a while, but the field has opened up and I’m seeing all kinds of interesting bitter greens great for cooking, especially in the farmers markets. One of the discoveries I’ve made is that frisee lettuce–a bristly salad nightmare, akin to eating a vegetable mustache–is marvelous cooked.

What should you look for in the store or farmers market? Plant/food names can be different depending on where you are. Some of the common names for various cultivated chicories are: leaf chicory, endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, or witloof.

My Favorite Greens (serves 4)

12 oz. or 340g of greens
2 Tbsps. (30ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you want things spicy)
Salt and black pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Trim greens by cutting off the root end and cutting or tearing the leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash the greens very well as they can be oh so dirty, and gritty greens are an awful thing to bite into. Dry the greens.

Add the olive oil to a large shallow pan. Add the garlic to the cold oil and set the burner to medium high heat. We’re adding the garlic when the oil is cold so it cooks gradually and doesn’t burn or become bitter.

When the oil is nice and hot and the garlic is sizzling away, add the red pepper and the greens and cook for 3-5 minutes until wilted but still a little crunchy. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.