Here we have Exhibit A in the “Recipes That Taste Much Better Than Their Name Implies” category. I found it in the wonderful Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas about a year ago and immediately emailed Elspeth and Anna. “So good! So simple!” I crowed. “Go make this now.” I’ve been making it regularly ever since.

Atlas calls it “Wilted Sesame Spinach or Swiss Chard.” That might sound a tad more exciting, but it doesn’t tell you that you can use lots of other greens too. I’ve made it with spinach, chard, kale, turnip greens, bok choy, and broccoli rabe, and it’s always delicious. It’s not just a dinner dish, either; it’s excellent with eggs at breakfast or brunch.

It took my girls a while to get onboard with the recipe. I kept hitting the send button: “Yo, chickadees! Have you made the wilted greens?” I’m not sure what the problem was. Maybe it just sounded too dull, although I kept telling them it wasn’t. I finally just drove down to Anna’s apartment and made it for her. “This is delicious!” she said. Kids….

Speaking of kids—the little ones like this too. Nineteen-month-old Sally gobbles it up. I recently shared the recipe with a friend who’s been trying desperately to get her 6- and 8-year-olds to like kale. Bingo! Kim is now buying kale by the bagsful.

Give it a whirl. I think you’ll like it too.


If you’re a greens lover, this recipe will probably serve only two, but it’s a snap to double.

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
12–16 ounces fresh spinach, chard, kale, or other green (washed, if necessary)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the sesame seeds in a small, dry frying pan and lightly toast them. This will take only a few minutes. Keep an eye on them, as they can quickly go from perfectly toasted to toss-in-the-compost black. Set aside.

Place greens in a large frying pan or wok. For spinach, cover and steam—using just the water that’s clinging to the leaves—until lightly wilted, about 2–3 minutes. For chard or kale, add about ½ cup water to the bottom of the pan and steam until the greens are just tender, which might take 4–5 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Heat the soy sauce and sesame oil in your frying pan or wok. Add the greens and stir fry until they’re heated through, about 1–2 minutes. Season with fresh pepper and toss with sesame seeds. Serve at once, while still piping hot.


Julie B said...

Thanks for such a simple, healthy recipe - sounds delicious to me! Will probably have to blindfold the kids though.

Liz said...

Julie, really, I don't think you will have to blindfold them! At least, not from what my friend Kim told me. The soy sauce makes this dish a little salty, which most kids like.

We used to play a game with Elspeth and Anna when they were little and weren't (yet) crazy about salad. We would tell them to close their eyes and then we'd give them a bite of salad -- and they had to tell us what was in it. What started as a fun guessing game quickly turned into a love of salads, of all kinds.

Good luck! ~Liz


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