Spicy Greens with Cilantro Pesto

Greens are traditionally associated with Southern food like fried chicken or prepared alongside black-eyed peas during New Years, but sautéed greens have become one of my favorite side dishes. Normally, all I use is olive oil, garlic, and salt, but this recipe by Heidi Krahling of Insalata’s in San Anselmo is an amazing way to spice up an already tasty side.

In my house we love all kinds of greens like kale, chard, beets, mustard, and collard, and each brings a distinct tasty flair to this recipe. I would encourage you to experiment and see what you like the best. Most frequently I use collards because I have a section in my garden which just wont quite producing them. I trim off the larger leave and a week later they’re ready to be harvested again!

Don’t let the lack a of picture deter you from trying this recipe. I tried to take one that looked great but to be honest, there is not much spectacular or photogenic about a plate full of sautéed greens. They taste amazing but sadly their taste and smell does not translate well to film. At least not by me. I hope you enjoy.



  • 2 lb of greens, trimmed and chopped. (about two-three bundles)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cilantro Pesto:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cups chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Start by cleaning and trimming your greens. Many will tell you to removed the stem but I like a little crunchiness in my greens so I leave the stems starting at the larger start to the leaf. If it is a really hard stem that I will remove it. Cut your greens in half lengthwise then cut horizontal to the widths you want. I shoot for about 1/2 an inch.

Heat your oil in a large sauté pan on med-high heat. Add your greens after you have washed them good. Don’t dry because you will want a little of the water clinging to the leaf to help wilt them down. Cook until greens are nice and soft. Add all of the spices, stirring occasionally until they are at your desired tenderness.

While your greens are wilting you will want to start on the cilantro pesto. In your blender or food processor add your cilantro, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper until it is at your desired level.

When your greens are cooked the way you want them, stir in the pesto until everything is well mixed and pipping hot. Taste and add seasoning as needed. These go great next to any dish and I’ve even used them as a vegetarian substituent for taco meat. Happy Cooking!

Adapted From:
Heidi Insalata Krahling. Insalata’s Mediterranean Table. San Francisco, Laura Parker Studio, 2009.

About DH

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This entry was posted in Dinner, Garden, Hot Dish, Middle Eastern, Savory, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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