This dish is so simple, it hardly warrants a recipe. Come into the kitchen and we can make it together. Grab whatever greens are available. Today, I have mustard greens from the farmer’s market, but I’ve also used collards, rapini, kale, chard, spinach, arugula. Seriously, whatever you have that looks fresh, crisp, and green. You can even mix them if you want. Make sure to give them a quick wash because you don’t want a mouthful of soil or sand.
Something to give consideration to is whether your greens have a tough rib, and if they do, it’s a good idea to pull that out by running a hand up the spine of each leaf from the stem end to the tip. This should remove the tender leaves, which you can cut into manageable strips.
If you pull the ribs out, you have a few choices: You can discard, freeze for later, or cut in small pieces to cook now with our greens. Let’s cook them now; they’ll just need a little extra time in the pan to soften up.
Okay, now cut up something from the allium family—a shallot, maybe a clove or two of garlic, an onion. Any kind of onion will do just fine. Today, let’s use a shallot, diced fine. Grab a lemon and zest it, then cut it in half and reserve near the stove for later. Or if you’re the mise-en-place type, you can go ahead and juice it and reserve near the stove. Oh, and you’ll need red chili flakes. I’ll leave the amount up to you because you know how much heat you’re after, but about a teaspoon is the minimum for mild spice and enough flavor to notice.
Now all you have to do is come over to the stove and put a sauté pan on medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, then add the shallots (or garlic or green onions or whatever). Add some salt (don’t be shy, just grab a generous pinch and throw it in) and stir it around until the shallot softens in the heat of the pan, about 3 minutes. Since we’re using the ribs of the greens today, throw those in with the onion to soften. Finally, add your greens. Don’t worry too much about overcrowding the pan; remember, these will cook down A LOT. For flavor, add the lemon zest, chili flakes, maybe even a splash of stock if you have it on hand. Let it cook, stirring often, until the greens wilt and most of the liquid is reabsorbed. Add a squeeze of lemon, and taste to adjust the seasonings. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want a bit more salt. Eat immediately alongside a fleshy, rich piece of fish, or thickly piled on toast for a quick lunch, or however you choose to show off these bright green flavors. Savor with delight and gratitude.