Basic Method for Leafy Greens

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Broccoli rabe and Swiss chard are also good cooked this way. This method—actually a combination of steaming and sautéing—works well with tougher greens, such as beet, collard, and mustard, all nutrient-packed powerhouses. Just remember they need a little more water and slightly longer cooking time to become tender.


  • 1 to 1½ pounds fresh spinach
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (or a tiny pinch of dried red pepper flakes)
  • 2 or 3 gratings of fresh nutmeg (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


    1. Place the spinach in a colander in the sink under lukewarm running water. Remove the large, tough stems and swish the leaves around under the water to wash them very well. Change the water to cold and continue to wash all traces of grit from the leaves.
    2. Place the spinach, with the water clinging to its leaves, in a nonreactive large pot over medium-high heat. Cover tightly. Steam (Steaming Basics) until the spinach is just wilted but still bright green, usually about 3 minutes. As the leaves steam, carefully uncover the pot and turn the spinach over once with a wooden spoon to combine the cooked and raw portions—but don’t leave the cover off too long.
    3. Pour the contents of the pot into a colander in the sink. With a large skimmer or spoon, gently press the spinach to remove all excess water.
    4. Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if you are using them. Sauté (Sauté Basics), stirring once in a while, until the garlic begins to turn very pale gold, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the spinach; sprinkle with salt and black pepper and nutmeg and turn the leaves over with 2 spoons to separate and coat them with oil. When they are heated through, after a minute or two, serve immediately, with a wedge of lemon.