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Italian style greens (Ricetta tipica per verdure verdi)
This dish can be eaten either cold as an antipasto or warm as a vegetable contorno. The great thing about it is that you can use any combination of greens, such as baby cabbage leaves, Swiss chard and even salad leaves like cos, gem or Romaine. You can easily buy a big bag of spinach, rocket and watercress and use some yellow celery leaves and other herbs like basil, parsley, sorrel and fennel tops to give you a good mixture. Most Italians have a vegetable garden, and no matter how big or small it is they always have greens and veggies to hand. This recipe sees the more robust leaves blanched first, then wilted down in a pan with the salad leaves, herbs and garlic until soft and tender.
Blanch the cabbage leaves and chard to perfection in a pot of salted boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain in a colander and leave to cool down a little. Put a couple of good lugs of olive oil into a large frying pan or casserole type dish and add the sliced garlic. As soon as it starts to take on the smallest amount of colour, throw in your salad leaves then the cabbage and Swiss chard.
Cook on a medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, moving the greens around the pan with a spoon or a pair of tongs, then add your herbs and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat and season carefully to taste with salt and pepper, some good-quality extra virgin olive oil and enough lemon juice to give it a little kick.