Every cook should have a few staple recipes that are versatile and easy to throw together. This sautéed greens with garlic recipe is exactly that. You can make it with whatever hardy greens you can find at your local market, a little garlic, and a good glug of olive oil.
What makes this recipe work?
- This is a versatile recipe that you can adjust on the fly depending on what you have in your pantry.
- You can use just about any hardy green that you can find. Kale, chard, collards, mustard, and beet greens - they all work.
- Greens are a nutritional powerhouse and are loaded with phytonutrients, fiber, minerals, and vitamin K.
- It’s easy to adjust the flavor and add new ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, or fresh chilies on the fly.
- You only need a few minutes and a single pan to make these garlicky greens.
You only need six ingredients to make these simple, sautéed greens. Hardy, leafy greens such as kale, chard, and collards form the foundation of the recipe. You’ll also need a little bit of oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, as well as liquid and a source of acid.
- Leafy greens can be any hardy variety. This is the time for Swiss chard, collards, and kale. Additionally, beet, turnip, radish, and mustard greens are also delicious.
- Garlic flavors the greens and balances their earthy, vegetal notes. Alternatively, add other alliums, such as onion or shallot, in place of or in addition to garlic.
- Red pepper flakes bring a little heat to these garlicky greens. Thinly sliced Thai chilies or Fresno peppers are nice, too.
- Broth softens the greens just a touch and shortens the cooking time. This homemade bone broth recipe or chicken broth recipe both work, but you can also use vegetable broth or water.
- Apple cider vinegar brings a punch of acidity that helps to brighten the earthy flavor of the greens. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a splash of white wine works just as well.
Which greens work best?
You can use just about any type of green in this recipe. This recipe works with individual bunches of collard greens, mustard greens, or kale. You can also mix greens together, and you may be able to find bags of pre-mixed braising greens at the farmers’ market during spring and autumn.
- Collard Greens are members of the Brassica family. They have thick stems and wide leaves. Like most greens, they’re rich in calcium and folate. They will take a little longer to cook than most other types of greens.
- Kale is a good choice for this recipe because it’s widely available. Any type of kale works in this recipe, including Tuscan, curly, and even red kale.
- Swiss chard is delicious when you sauté it. It is especially rich in the nutrient Lutein, an antioxidant that supports eye function.
- Mustard greens are rich in glucosinolates, a potent antioxidant, and other micronutrients. They have a peppery kick and work well mixed with other greens.
- Beet, turnip, and radish greens are delicious when cooked. If you grow your own vegetables or buy them at the farmers’ market, save the tops for this sautéed greens recipe. It’s like buying two vegetables in one.
Making garlicky sautéed greens is easy. You only need a single pan and less than 15 minutes.
You’ll start by sautéing a few cloves of garlic and any other flavorings in some olive oil, and then you’ll add the greens and eventually the broth. This allows the greens to cook until tender. Add a couple of pinches of crushed red pepper for flavor if you like.
- Save the stems when you trim the greens. Then chop them very finely and sauté them with the garlic. You’ll save plenty of food waste and use every bit this way.
- Some recipes call for boiling the greens before sautéing them. It’s a good technique that we use in this creamed collard greens recipe. But adding a little broth to the greens after sautéeing them means tender greens without the extra steps (or extra pots).
- Use only fresh, crisp greens in this recipe for the best results.
- Different varieties of greens will cook faster (or slower) than others. The thicker the leaf, the longer it will take. Collards will take the most time, while chard takes the least.
How to Use Them
Fold the greens into an omelet. A little feta cheese or havarti can really bring it together, or stir in a few sliced mushrooms for good measure.
Serve a fried or poached egg atop a bowlful of sautéed greens. It’s particularly good with a slice of toasted no-knead sourdough bread spread with garlic confit.
Serve them as a side dish. They’re delicious partnered with chipotle salmon or roasted chicken alongside potatoes or rice.
If you have a little leftover, use them as a pizza topping. We love them on top of our simple einkorn pizza.
Variations + Substitutions
Swap coconut oil or ghee for the olive oil, and then add a little freshly grated ginger and a spoonful of turmeric at the same time you sauté the garlic. Skip the apple cider vinegar in favor of a squeeze of lemon.
Sprinkle toasted sourdough breadcrumbs over the greens right before you serve them for a little texture.
Swap thinly sliced fresh chilies for the crushed red pepper. Fresno peppers, with their vivid red color, are a great option.
Skip the garlic and cook onion until sweet and caramelized, then stir in the greens and broth.
Crisp a few strips of bacon, and then sautée the greens and garlic in the reserved bacon fat. Chop up the crisp bacon and then stir it into the greens just before serving.
Skip the garlic and sauté shallots instead. Then stir in some pine nuts or walnuts and a handful of golden raisins or currants.
Like this recipe? Try these leafy green recipes.
How long do sautéed greens keep?
You can store the greens in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze it?
No. They do not freeze well?
How do I reheat leftovers?
Spoon the leftover greens and any leftover juices into a pan. Set it on the stove and warm over medium-low heat with the lid on until hot.
Are there any greens I shouldn’t use for this recipe?
This recipe works for hardy leafy greens with thick, crisp leaves. Avoid using tender leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula, and watercress.