Wilted greens

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

A mound of greens, briefly wilted over high heat, is a great foil for any kind of rich food, even though it has a little olive oil in it too. I use this a lot, sometimes unnamed mixes of miscellaneous greens, sometimes one specific variety. Spinach, though not delicate young ‘real’ spinach, and chard are excellent; kale is coarser but is my favourite, especially the black Italian variety which cooks to such a dark, vivid green. Small amounts of other greens like rocket, beet leaves and frisée and the like add a complexity to the flavours if you’re using a mix. These don’t all cook at the same rate, so either start with the coarsest leaves and add the others according to their delicacy, or toss them all in together, compromise on the cooking time and take delight in the textural differences you end up with. The quantities for greens are difficult to measure, so I would suggest you need a large handful for each person.


  • 4 large handfuls of greens
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and black pepper


TEAR THE LEAVES INTO PIECES - kale needs to be in smaller pieces than; say; spinach. If the greens need to be washed; shake them but leave some water clinging to them. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil to a high temperature in a large pan. Put in the red onion; stirring constantly for half a minute; then put in all the greens and keep stirring them over a high heat. An occasional splash of water will help the process and ensure that the greens are wilting and not frying; but only tiny amounts of water at a time. The greens are done when they have completely changed colour to a darker green; softened and shrunk - this should only take about a minute for spinach and chard; maybe two for kale. Turn the heat off; season well with salt and pepper; and get the greens out of the pan quickly. It’s better to eat them at room temperature than to overcook them.