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Braised Greens with Garlic & Chili Flakes

Turnip greens can be hard to find. When I happened upon a bunch of turnips, their leaves and stems intact, perky and green, I was so excited. I knew just what I wanted to do: the turnips would get blanched before baking with milk, caraway, and Parmigiano (so soothing on a cold day), and the greens and stems get treated to that typical Italian slow-cook that renders them meltingly tender, unctuous, just shy of bitter. If you can’t find turnip greens, broccoli raab works very well. You can also serve these greens as a pasta sauce, with short, concave pasta like orecchiette; just add freshly grated Pecorino when serving.

Serves 2

  • 1/2 pound turnip greens and stems, washed thoroughly and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • water as needed

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the turnip greens and stems and 2 tablespoons of the salt. Cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking, then shake dry.

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and chili in a 2-quart saucepan. Set over a medium-low heat and cook until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Before the garlic takes on any color, add the greens and stems. Stir well, season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring often, about 20 minutes. You may need to add a splash of water now and again, to prevent the greens from sticking to the pan. There should always be some liquid in the pan; a few tablespoons is right.

When the greens are silky-soft, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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