Easy and Healthy Sautéed Greens with Garlic and Lemon

My grown son is now in his own condo and this collection of recipes I called, Dearest Michael were written when he was younger as you will see by my references, as a gift to him for this very moment.

Whether you read them for the story or the recipe, know that they were written as a tribute to the many people who have influenced my kitchen, my cooking and my notion of family.


Dearest Michael,

You have grown up watching me zig zag between eating and preparing healthy nourishing meals followed by my deep dives into butter and carbohydrate laden meals your entire life.

One thing I can say with gusto, is it has never been boring in the meal department. One day, it is Baked Salmon, and a salad with Homemade Dressing, Cauliflower Bolognese, and the next day, Sweet Bread French Toast, Comfort Food Casserole or Grilled Reubens with homemade fries followed with gooey chocolate brownies.

Our taste buds are always alive and well in this Whitehouse.

I always wished I was that disciplined eater, allowing the deep dives as special treats rather than the yoyo approach depending on my mood of the day, or the full moon, what I drank the previous evening or the other endless reasons Alayne's brain does what it does.

But here I am again, singing out my wacky truths for the world to hear with this recipe today. Sauteed Greens. A staple when I need to clean up my insides after a few days of pasta and bread slathered with butter. Or eating out as we did the other night at our favorite gathering spot, The Lobster Pot in Bristol, RI as we each sat with a big plate of Fish and Chips enjoying each other's company.

A big plate of Sautéed Greens can be a main meal, a side dish, with chickpeas or beans or even topped on your scrambled eggs for breakfast.

The only trick is to be sure you steam them first and squeeze out the water well. Recipe below will have the specifics.

It is my hope, like so many of my recipes that it becomes a staple in your meals when you need to clean yourself up a bit. Like your mama does every few weeks.

I Love You. Love Mom

*Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate and or an Amazon affiliate. Anything I recommend I personally use. I want to make it easier to shop for items you may not have, need to replace-- or if you are a lover of all things kitchen like me, just want to add to your collection.

Sautéed Greens

One of the best recipes from my original subscription to BON APPETIT when I was married in 1990. This recipe can be made in 8 minutes flat. Spinach, swiss chard, kale, bok choy, beet greens, or any green that needs a little wilting first, these greens will become a fast delight in your meals too.


smiling woman with glasses looking up at her son, a young man

Prep Time: Less than 10 minutes


  • Fresh greens. Spinach or Broccoli is where I would start if you have never made this before to get the feel and the taste. Then head to beet greens, swiss chard, bok choy broccolI rabe or kale. Rabe and Kale will need more steaming as they are a tougher green and you want this to be tender. If you are using broccoli, steam till just slightly tender because it will cook a bit more when you saute it to finish. See directions below for more specific.
  • 6 cloves of garlic sliced, chopped or minced, whatever you like
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper to taste I just do a few shakes, less or more depending on what you like for spice.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon sliced in half (see note below in TIPS)


  • A pot for steaming the greens and a strainer for draining the water.
  • A large cast iron pan to saute the greens and a happy wooden spoon that gives you joy


Spinach and beet greens cook down a lot, I like those big containers of baby spinach. Beet greens are just a bonus as far as I am concerned as the main event are the beets The tops are so delicious, I just hate to waste them. The rest of the list here is pretty much what you see is what you get.
Spinach: Till wilted
Broccoli: Till slightly tender
Kale, Beet Greens or Rabe: You want this pretty tender
Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Lightly steam the stems first till slightly tender then add the greens.
  • Lightly steam the greens. Choose which greens you want to try.
  • Drain and be sure to get as much water out as possible. Set aside.
  • On medium heat, in a large skillet, add olive oil and heat for a minute or so,
  • Add the garlic, the shake of red pepper, a shake of salt and saute until the garlic is just turning light gold.
  • Add the drained greens and stir until all blended, this only takes a couple minutes.
  • When mixed well and heated though, turn off the heat and add a grind of black pepper and squeeze the lemon over the greens.
  • Serve promptly.
cast iron pan with garlic and the strainer of spinach with the jar of crushed red pepper behind it.
cast iron pan with sauteed spinach and the golden garlic and red pepper

Here is the spinach in the strainer with the red pepper ready for the pan, then after it was steamed and added to the pan with the golden garlic. I wish you could smell the fragrance.


Mesh strainers are what I use for almost everything needing straining. A few sizes in my kitchen, sifting flour, draining cans of stuff and getting the water out of spinach. These 3 sizes work perfectly.

An affordable and delicious Olive oil from Portugal. If you are close to Bristol, RI Seabra, you can go in and purchase. It is usually less than $10.00 and delicious. This is on Amazon and really way more expensive than you should spend, but I just wanted you to see what the can looks like. My friend, Denise over at C+R Mercantile sells some lovely Olive Oil, as does Maria at the Newport Wine Cellar.

How fun is this 12 inch cast iron pan from the one and only Loge company, if you are a Yellowstone TV SERIES fan? You probably don't need another pan, but how fun if you do.


  • This can become a base for so much. When you are done cooking the greens, you could add chickpeas to the pan, saute and add to the greens for a robust meal.
  • Sometimes I find cloves of garlic already peeled and in a container. Seabra has them in the produce section. I know the garlic purists are horrified at this, but I love the ease of pouring out already peeled and easy cloves!
  • I didn't realize at the time of making this, I was out of lemon, eee gads, so I used a splash of red wine vinegar and it was great.
  • Add cooked and drained pasta with some extra olive oil and mix together.
  • Shrimp, scallops, chicken all work great with this dish together or separate.

Creative magic!

I decided to have the spinach with poached eggs on Saturday morning; the picture isn't that stunning, but just wanted to give you an idea besides the typical side dish with dinner vegetable.

skillet with sauteed spinach and saute4ed garlic

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