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Garlic-Braised Greens

Adapted from Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable by Tara Duggan (Ten Speed Press)

Serves 2 to 4

This is a building block recipe for cooking chard or kale as a side dish for meats or fish, or as a base for a pasta sauce. You can choose to add the stems to the braise, or keep them for another recipe. Note: Turnip greens, beet greens, kohlrabi greens, collards, mustard greens and pea shoots all work using this recipe's method of first sizzling the greens with garlic, red chile flakes and oil, and then steaming them until fully tender.

  • 2 bunches kale or chard, stemmed (cut away thick part of stem with knife, or hold stem and tear away leaves by hand)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Wash the greens and leave wet. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces and slice the stems, if using, 1/4-inch thick; keep the leaves and stems separate. (If you'd like to use the greens with pasta, cut the leaves into 1-inch dice so that they will better coat the pasta.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red chile flakes and swirl in the hot oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the stems and stir-fry for 1 minute, then cover and cook with a splash of water until mostly tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add a few handfuls of the leaves and stir, adding more as they wilt. After you've added about one-third, sprinkle with salt to help the greens shrink and be seasoned evenly. When all the leaves are wilted, add a splash of water (unless the greens are very wet). Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes for chard and 8 to 10 minutes for kale.

Season with salt and lemon juice. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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