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Recipe: Tsigarelli Spicy Mixed Greens Stew

I prefer the greens without tomato, but it is a matter of taste. Serve over poulenta (the Corfiote polenta, enriched with the local sweet olive oil), or with plenty of fresh country bread to soak up the sauce, complemented with feta cheese. Tsigarelli can also accompany grilled meat, poultry or fish.

Makes 4 servings

23 cup olive oil
    • 2 leeks, trimmed, thinly sliced, washed well, and drained
    • 10 to 12 green garlic stalks (white plus most of the green parts), thinly sliced, or 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    • 2 pounds greens with stems (spinach and bitter greens like dandelion and mustard greens; sorrel and the outer green leaves of any kind of lettuce like romaine, butter head or green leaf; amaranth shoots and turnip greens; or broccoli rabe, Swiss chard and frisée), leaves coarsely chopped, stems finely chopped
    • 1 to 3 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 12 - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cored and diced, or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juice, or 1 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 12 cups boiling water or chicken stock
    • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
    • 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • extra virgin olive oil to drizzle (optional)
    • 2 lemons, quartered (optional)
    • For serving: cooked polenta, rice pilaf or fresh crusty bread

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil and sauté the leeks and green garlic, if using, for five to eight minutes, or until the leeks are soft. If you are using garlic cloves, add them now and cook for one minute more. Do not let them color. Add the stems of the greens and the Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes. Sauté for one minute, stirring, then add the tomatoes or water and salt.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the greens and cook for 10 minutes more. Add half a cup each of the parsley and arugula and simmer for eight minutes or more, until most of the juices have evaporated and the greens are tender. If the sauce is still watery, cook for a few more minutes over high heat to reduce it.

Stir in the remaining half cup each parsley and arugula, taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a few grinds of black pepper and drizzling with extra virgin olive oil if you like. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the lemon wedges.

To read more about how Aglaia Kremezi uses Greece's wild greens in her kitchen, and to view a slideshow of her images, click here for the story.