“Of the many smells of Athens two seem to me the most characteristic – that of garlic, bold and deadly like acetylene gas, and that of dust, soft and warm and caressing like tweed.” —Evelyn Waugh, from When the Going Was Good
Sauteed spring greens with garlic, served atop polenta
turnip greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
dandelion greens, washed and trimmed
garlic, chopped coarsely
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup cornmeal
3 1/2 cups cold water
chopped fresh herbs (parsley, savory, chives, sage or a combination are all good)
For the greens: Saute garlic in olive oil or until browned, add greens, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Wilt greens, about thirty seconds to one minute. Remove from heat. A splash of water will help stop the cooking.
For the polenta: Combine water and salt in a deep pan. Pour in cornmeal, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or wire whisk. Whisk in a continuous motion, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. This will help prevent lumps from forming and keep the boiling temperature constant. Continue to whisk until the polenta is so thick that it begins to resist whisking and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 10 to 15 minutes. Top with a generous amount of unsalted butter and grated cheese. I prefer Parmesan but pecorino and ricotta salata are good choices as well.
Assembly: Ladle polenta into a bowl, top with greens, chopped fresh herbs (I used sage and parsley in the pic above) and serve immediately.