August 3, 2009

Spicy Garlic Greens

We all know that we need to eat our greens. But sometimes gooey and cheesy is much more appealing than dark and leafy (which, incidentally, makes it sound like you're about to eat a forest.) Because of that, I like to dress up my greens. Usually I use a cute little bow-tie or top hat, but in this case I went with garlic and red pepper flakes.

Alex's mom brought us a bag full of kale from her organic garden and I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it. Kale isn't something I used to try, but once we made this recipe, I was hooked. In its raw form, kale is pretty rough-looking and intimidating, but it's easily tamed if you know how to finesse it a little bit. I love this recipe because I love garlic. Raw, roasted, grilled, simmered, smeared, sauteed, baked, sliced, fried, do it to garlic and I'll eat it. There's something addictive about the pungent and spicy taste that can change to sweet and mellow in the blink of an eye. There is a restaurant in SanFran that I hope to get to someday, called The Stinking Rose. That's my kind of place!

When you're cooking greens, always remember that they will release a lot of water and cook down to less than 1/3 of the original size. My pan started off looking like this:

And after about 5 minutes, it had cooked right down to this:

Remember that when you're thinking "There is now way this will all fit in my pan! It's too much."
Since I knew the kale would really shrink, I threw in a few big handfuls of baby spinach. This recipe can be used for any green leafy vegetable, but I find that spinach and/or kale work best. It's a great side for any protein you wish to serve, or you can whip up a big batch of this and mix it with pasta. C''s good for you!

1 large bag of kale, stems removed and ripped into bite-sized pieces (or spinach)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-3 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tsp olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute or so, being careful not to let it brown. You want to flavor the oil in the pan, so make sure to stir the garlic around evenly.
Add the greens and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The greens will start to wilt almost immediately. Keep stirring until they reach your desired texture. Add in red pepper flakes and stir to combine. They add a lot of heat, so be sure you know your tolerance first!
Serve hot.