Delicious and nutritious! This classic recipe for braised greens with pine nuts will hit all the right spots. You have the bitterness of your greens, a buttery crunch from some toasted pine nuts, a burst of sweetness from raisins, and it’s all smoothed out with a little dry white wine. Serve over pasta, polenta, or even as simple side dish!
What Does Braised Mean Anyway?
Braising is a two step cooking technique. First, you cook your food at a high temperature. Then you add some liquid (if necessary), a cover, and continue to cook at a low temperature until it’s done. By braising greens, the method breaks down the dense fibers of the leaves and transforms them into delicate, delicious morsels with a texture that’s similar to lightly-cooked spinach.
What’s in Mixed Braising Greens?
Mixed braising greens are a mix of hearty leafy vegetables and vegetables tops (the greens). This could include any combination of vegetables like chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, bok choy, radicchio, dandelion, chicory, and so many others. The beauty of using mixed greens is that you get a slightly different flavor and texture in every bite. For this recipe, you can use any combination that you like. If you’re feeling less experimental, I suggest going with a simple blend of chard and kale.
How to Toast Pine Nuts
There are a few different ways get toasted pine nuts, but I like to throw caution to the wind and use the method that’s fastest. What I do is put the braising pan on a medium flame and drop the pine nuts right in. Just like that. No oil. No liquid.
I spread them out and occasionally toss them around to get both sides. Three minutes later, they start to get brown. Dump them out into a small bowl and they’re ready to be used. It’s very easy to burn them if you look away for even a few seconds, so don’t do it. Focus on your nuts.
Okay wait… I See Raisins?!
I know. I’ve used them before in other savory meals like my Vegetarian Empanada Rolls. Primarily, the use of raisins in savory dishes comes from Arabic cuisine—which has greatly influenced both Sicily as well as Spain (where my empanada filling loosely originates from.) It’s really quite brilliant once you’ve tried it. I know for a fact that it still sounds weird to some people, so let me explain.
In this particular recipe, raisins act as a sweetener that soften the bitterness of the braising greens. As a matter of fact, a lot of braised greens recipes like Southern Collard Greens will straight up call for adding sugar. Raisins are just a healthier way to do that. It also gives your taste buds a chance to refresh themselves because the sweetness comes in a sudden burst. It’s really quite lovely.
Making Braised Greens in a Tiny Kitchen
As far as braising recipes go, this is a very simple dish to make. The most difficult part when preparing this recipe in a tiny kitchen is washing all of your braising greens. If you’re serving more than one person, you’re going to need a lot of greens. It’s actually going to look like a ridiculous amount of food, but greens shrink down quite a bit when cooked. I typically grab my two largest bowls: wash in one bowl and set the washed greens aside in the other.
When it comes to dishes and equipment, this recipe uses one large braising pan (a deep skillet), a cutting board, knife, and a fork. I also like to use my tongs to move things around and serve with, but you can pretty much get by with just a fork. A stove-top is also required. Otherwise your “braised” greens will just be a fancy raw salad—which can be tasty too!
The beauty of this dish is that it’s just as good hot as it is room temperature. If you’re planning on serving up a large meal, you can easily make this recipe in advance, cover it, and set it aside until you’re ready to eat. The braising greens don’t care if they sit for awhile.
Give this recipe for Sicilian Braised Greens with Pine Nuts a shot and let me know what you think. Don’t forget to come back and give me your rating. If you have any questions or find other substitutions that are yummy, feel free add those in your comments! As always, if you like this recipe, please share it on social media so other people know about it too. Let’s eat!
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 pounds mixed braising greens
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup raisins (preferably golden raisins)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Wash your braising greens. Remove and discard any large stems by cutting them out or grabbing the leaf in one hand and pulling the stem away with the other. Loosely chop the leaves into 1-inch strips. Chop your onion and garlic.
- Place a braising pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of pine nuts and spread out on the skillet. Stir and toss for about 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in the pan. Add onions and sauté until they become slightly translucent. About 3 minutes.
- Add your braising greens, the chopped garlic, and salt. Toss frequently until the greens have wilted. About 5 minutes.
- Once the greens have wilted, turn the heat down to low. Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine, 1/3 cup of raisins, your toasted pine nuts, red pepper flake, and black pepper. Mix well then cover and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve.
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