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