Melting Greens

Sally claims there is something therapeutic about a simple bowl of greens. "This dish is my tonic," she says. "Whenever I feel a cold coming on, or I am tired and my thirteen-year-old insists on baking a cake at nine p.m., I haul out a bunch of greens (even if they are in dubious condition) and wilt them in a pan with garlic and olive oil. The wisdom of the old advice to use fresh greens as a spring tonic comes through loud and clear - you feel purified."

  • Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, or combination of greens (chards, kales, sturdy lettuces), washed, stripped from center ribs and torn into pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1 whole dried red chile
  • 1/3 cup Cheater's Homemade Broth (recipe follows), chicken, vegetable stock or water
  • Generous salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Cheater's Broth

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed (leave unpeeled if organic)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 canned tomato
  • 1 bay leaf, broken
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • Three 14-ounce cans chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium to large onion, coarse chopped (if organic, trim away root but leave skin)
  • 1/2 large celery stalk with leaves, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 medium carrot, coarse chopped (leave unpeeled if organic)

1. Generously film the bottom of a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid with the olive oil and heat over medium high. Add the garlic and whole chile. Sauté them very briefly - no more than 30 seconds.

2. Add the greens and chicken stock. The pan will look heaping, but prepare yourself - the greens shrink shockingly as they cook down.

3. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook the greens for 10 minutes, or until they are tender. Check occasionally to make sure the greens are not burning, adding more liquid if needed. Sturdier greens like kale may take 5 to 10 minutes longer.

4. Just before serving, remove the chile and season the greens with additional salt and pepper and more of the olive oil if desired.

Cheater's Broth

Makes about 4 cups; doubles and triples easily. 10 minutes prep time; 12 minutes stove time

This is good warm and cool and keeps in the refrigerator for a day or two.

1. In a 4-quart pot, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
2. Strain the broth into a bowl or a storage container. Either use it right away, refrigerate it, or freeze it.

From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

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Serves 2, and doubles easily

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