Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: You have the power to bring the best out of dark leafy greens.
Wondering what to do with that bunch of greens sitting in your crisper? You can take the same freestyle, compositional approach you use when making a salad, while softening a bit of the greens' earthy and bitter flavors -- just sauté.
Unlike salads, maybe not everything goes well in sautéed greens; so follow our lead for the right ratios of fruit, nuts, and acid to create a no-brainer, non-threatening side dish, and -- with the right ingredients -- even a main.
As a bonus, taking what seems to be too big a batch of greens and shrinking it down to a manageable quantity can be surprisingly empowering, as satisfying as giving kale a deep tissue massage during salad prep.
Try this method with a mix of greens and add-ins -- you have the power.
How to Make Sautéed Greens Without a Recipe
1. Wash greens thoroughly. (Here's our favorite way, no salad spinner required.) Here we used mustard, lacinato and curly kale, Swiss chard, and a few baby collards. Prep will vary depending on the type of greens you select -- for younger greens like mustard or turnip, simply trim the ends off, but kale or chard may need de-ribbing.
2. Add a healthy amount of oil to a sauté pan over medium heat, about two tablespoons for larger bunches of greens. Warm the pan and, once the oil is hot, toss in chopped or sliced alliums (here we used sliced shallots and minced garlic), and allow them cook just before the point of browning.
3. Start adding the greens in batches -- the pan should be borderline full but not overflowing. Once the greens start cooking down, continue to add more. A good trick for speeding the cooking process and softening the greens, without adding additional oil, is to spoon a few tablespoons of water or broth into the pan, allowing for a nice partial steam.
4. Now it's time to embellish. Add acid, like the juice from half a lemon or a spoonful of vinegar (sherry, red wine, apple cider). Throw in a handful of toasted nuts, or a small handful of dried fruit.
5. Serve as a side, throw in some protein at the last minute, or toss in pasta for a meal.
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Photos by James Ransom