We were once in a rustic trattoria in Puglia where there was no menu. The owner just came out of the kitchen and told you what they were going to feed you. One of the courses was local greens (cima di rape) braised with olive oil and garlic and liberally sprinkled with parmesan. It was incredibly good. Since that holiday we often cook greens by braising them with olive oil and garlic, rather then steaming. Serve as a side to a piece of meat or fish, or maybe an omelette or a simple piece of smoked mackerel or trout with some gluten-free wholemeal or 100% rye bread (NB rye contains gluten so should be avoided by coeliacs).
1 x 500g bag chard or spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped into quarters
3 spring onions (optional) cut into 2cm lengths
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional (avoid for dairy-free diet): 1 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Put a frying pan (ideally a heavy-bottomed one) on a medium heat, add the garlic and white parts of the spring onion and 1 tbs olive oil. Cover with a lid or plate and cook until softened and slightly translucent.
2. Meanwhile wash the chard/spinach, shake the excess moisture off the leafy greens (don’t dry them completely or they will burn). If the leaves are large, cut into approximately 5cm lengths (across the thick stalks) and add to the pan along with the green parts of the spring onions. Cover and cook gently until wilted. If you use baby spinach or chard this will only take a couple of minutes. If you use larger leaves it can take 10-15 minutes.
3. Eat hot or lukewarm – they will keep warm, off the heat, in the covered pan for quite a while.
Chard and spinach, because they are dark green leafy veg, are very high in magnesium and folic acid. If you have digestive disorders, acne, psoriasis, or eczema, or if you are stressed, you could need more of these nutrients. Folic acid and magnesium are essential for liver function and mental health. Most Irish people are deficient in magnesium because dont eat enough magnesium foods and we eat and drink things that deplete it from the body – coffee, sugar, refined foods and stress deplete magnesium and folic acid. Celtic people also have a genetically increased requirement for folic acid. This genetic issue may predispose us to alcoholism and depression.