I’m getting reacquainted with an old cookbook favorite, Verdura – Vegetables Italian Style by Viana LaPlace, a great collection of simple, earthy recipes, published almost 20 years ago but still as appealing as ever.
Because I’ve been on a mission to increase the amount of leafy vegetables in my cooking and to make daily greens a serious habit in my life, getting inspired to cook all manner of vegetables seems to make sense, too.
I have to admit that up until now I never imagined my hunger for green things would get to this point. That is, I love to eat bowlfuls of nothing else but green leaves, raw or cooked. It’s surprising since my hunger cravings have always tended toward heaping piles of tangled spaghetti, crusty bread or anything else with a satisfying load of carbs.
I still do love those things, but found that the more I incorporate some kind of green, leafy vegetable into every meal, the more I want to eat them. I might add some baby spinach leaves to my whole grain English muffin and poached egg for breakfast; a small pile of arugula to whatever I eat for lunch and some kind of wilted greens with dinner.
For wilting, I use pretty much the same method whether I’m cooking Swiss chard, Tuscan or Lacinato kale, bok choy, beet greens, pea shoots, spinach – whatever I have on hand, and it was inspired by Boston chef Barbara Lynch from her book Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition.
I remove the stems and chop them separately from the leaves:
I sweat a thinly sliced shallot in olive oil with a pinch of salt and some red chile flakes until just tender, a minute or two, before tossing in the stems, cooking them until tender. Then in go the washed greens, with water still clinging to the leaves:
I cover the pot for another minute or two, just until the heap of leaves softens and wilts, when they’re ready to adorn the dinner plate or simply get eaten straight out of the pan.