For most people, greens are just one of those things you have to make your self eat. You might be indifferent or you may even hate them, and for many people the latter seems to be the case. If you’re Italian like me, it’s kind of the opposite. Greens are like the holy grail of an average everyday meal. They are almost always on the table, especially in the summer when there is often a heaping bowl of garlicky green goodness at almost every meal. Personally I am a greens addict. But for many years no matter how often I made them, they just never tasted quite the same as my moms and I could never figure out why. Somehow hers were always soft and really creamy, and mine were always a little stringy and sometimes bitter. Finally I hung around one day and figured it out. Here are the green secrets of every Italian grandmother. You can thank me when these methods get those picky green eaters asking for seconds.
First, keep in mind this is a two-step process. First you boil the greens, and then you need to sauté them. Here I have used rapini, one of my favorites. Many recipes will tell you otherwise, but I guarantee to get maximum creaminess you will need these two steps.
Second, you need to heavily salt the water the greens are boiled in. Don’t be afraid of using so much salt. The salted water brings our maximum flavor in veggies as well as a little sweetness. Usually, you don’t even have to salt the veggies later. Using unsalted water will always mean having to heavily salt the veggies themselves.
Third, sauté on high heat and make sure you don’t burn the garlic, which can make your greens taste bitter. Add the garlic in when the greens are almost done.
Lastly, make sure you use a good quality olive oil to finish the dish. You will be surprised how much of a difference this makes. I always keep a separate bottle on hand for finishing.
That’s it! Easy and straightforward but you would be surprised what a difference it makes.
Heat a large pasta pot of water until boiling. Add 2 tbsps salt.
Prepare rapini by rinsing thoroughly and trimming stems.
Add rapini to boiling water and stir.
Boil for 5 minutes or until tender.
Heat a frying pan on high with olive oil.
Add rapini when oil is hot.
Saute for two mins.
Add garlic, salt and pepper (to taste) and hot pepper.
Saute on high heat for about 4-5 minutes until garlic is cooked through and greens begin to break down a little.
Remove from heat and finish with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.