Lahanides me Paspala

Collard Greens with Pancetta

THE GREENS originally called for in this recipe are lahanides, the small green leaves with thick stems that grow around a head of cabbage. They are the cheapest vegetables in the Greek market—a certified food of the poor. But although they’re very tasty, my mother would never think of buying them, because she associates them with the days of starvation during the Nazi occupation, when they were one of the few foods available.

This recipe comes from Santorini, which was once one of the poorest islands. Only in the past decade has the land on this island come to cost as much as that on New York’s Park Avenue. My friend Katerina Vassiliadou, whose mother comes from the village of Kamari, described this dish to me. It’s a delicious winter food, in which home-cured pork, garlic and olive oil flavor the greens. Substituting collards or kale for lahanides and pancetta for the pork makes the dish even better.

Serve it on its own, with feta or manouri cheese and fresh country bread, or as a side dish with grilled poultry or pork.

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Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 2 pounds collard greens or kale
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2–3 tablespoons Greek sweet vinegar (see Sources) or balsamic vinegar

Method

In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the greens for 5 to 8 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking, and drain well. Coarsely chop the greens.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Add the garlic and pepper or pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the greens and sauté, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until coated with oil and hot. Add the vinegar, toss and taste to adjust the seasonings. Serve warm.