Laire and I are big fans of Jamie Oliver’s approach to cooking a side of greens, from his beautiful cookbook Jamie’s Italy. We do this with our gorgeous stalks of rainbow chard, kale, beet greens, and summer squash, and man! what a meal. We can’t get enough of the stuff, often finishing the greens before anything else on our plates.

It’s so simple, and I’m excited to share Jamie’s advice with you (in my own words).

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione
Dressed up, perfectly cooked greens

I like how Jamie prefaces the recipe: “… in Italy, huge amounts of vegetables and greens are served as an antipasto just to get the tastebuds going. It’s because of this that the Italians are a damn sight healthier than us. So listen up. Let’s be like them and big up the greens. Cook them nicely, dress them with care and you’ll be laughing.” That just gets my mouth watering…

What you’ll need:

  • large pot of salted water
  • a very healthy bunch of greens (chard, spinach, kale, baby summer squash, broccoli, asparagus – whatever’s local and in season!)
  • 2-3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3-6 tbsp. good quality vegetable oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, or a locally made alternative like Hillcreek Family Farm’s non-GMO canola or camelina oil (for sale at D’Aubin Family Meats in Bridgetown)
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic or garlic scapes, or one finely chopped chili pepper (optional)

Get the pot of water to a boil with the lid on. If you’re cooking chard or kale, chop up the stalks from the leaves first, then drop them into the boiling water. Then coarsely chop the leaves and after about a minute, drop them into the water, too. Boil them for 1-2 minutes. To tell if it’s done you can take a piece out and taste it, but the trick is to not overcook!

So cook them with your full attention (Jamie’s words), then drain them well into a colander and lay them on a clean kitchen towel to let the steam escape and soak up excess moisture. While still warm put them in a bowl and dress them with the vinegar or lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Add your garlic or chopped fresh chili for some heat and colour.

As Jamie recommends, try to get into the habit of this! It’s so delicious, good for you, a great way to use up what’s in season, and you won’t get tired of it.

Perfectly cooked greens


About Farmer Paul

Paul grew up in a yuppie-laden Toronto suburb, though he lucked out having been raised by eccentrics who rejected the neighbourhood status quo and converted the lawn into organic gardens. In his starry-eyed 20s, his obsession with living sustainably subdued his interest in high-tech anything (somehow scraping by with a computer science degree all the same). His interest in farming was piqued while apprenticing at Everdale, an organic farm in Ontario, and studying permaculture design in BC. He's since operated three market gardens, and now takes a lead in garden management and cheesemaking at Snow Lake Keep.

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