Cooking Up Healthy Winter Greens At Nora's

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Todd Woods and his sous chefs prepare baby greens for a quick saute at Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C. (NPR)
Todd Woods and his sous chefs prepare baby greens for a quick saute at Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C. (NPR)

You might think cooking greens requires a long, slow braise in a big pot on Grandma's stove with a hamhock thrown in for flavor.

Not necessarily, says Washington, D.C., chef and restaurateur Nora Pouillon. She recently took Linda Wertheimer into the tiny kitchen at Restaurant Nora to show her how to prepare tasty, fresh-picked baby greens in a flash.

Pouillon shows Wertheimer what she's chosen — a mixture of chard, mustard greens and kale.

"Actually, this comes from the farmers market," Pouillon says, "and one advantage is they pick things when they're very small."

There's an advantage to their size, Wertheimer notes: "Baby greens like these are tender; they can be sauteed quickly."

Wilted  Hardy Greens with Garlic
Wilted Hardy Greens with Garlic

Chef Todd Woods demonstrates. He heats some oil in a saute pan, throws in some garlic, and adds the sturdiest greens first — in this case, kale.

He quickly tosses them, adds the rest of the greens, a dash of salt and a splash of vermouth for flavor, and they're done in less than a minute.

"You want them to retain a little crunch," Woods says.

Taking a forkful, Wertheimer says: "Very juicy, very good!"

Find out more about how greens like these are grown, even in the dead of winter.

Mixed baby greens perched in their pan, waiting for a quick saute.
Mixed baby greens perched in their pan, waiting for a quick saute.


Wilted Hardy Greens With Garlic

Note: If baby greens (with a 2- to 3-inch leaf) are not available, you may use larger greens (10- to 12-inch), but be sure to remove the tough center rib. Slice the leaves into 1/2-inch to 1-inch strips before cooking.

1 pound mixed baby greens (kale, swiss chard, mustard greens)

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

1 to 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 tablespoons water, vegetable broth or white vermouth (optional)

Wash the greens and drain in a colander, leaving some moisture on the leaves. Heat a saute pan large enough to accommodate all of the greens over medium heat. Add oil, then the chopped garlic. Saute until softened, about 1 minute, stirring often to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the greens. Toss and saute them until they are wilted. Season with salt and pepper. If too dry, add more liquid.

Options: 1) Toss greens with hot pepper flakes and some balsamic vinegar; 2) Saute garlic with 2 anchovy fillets (be careful with the additional salt); 3) Add chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, chives) and some grated lemon peel or juice.

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