smothered greens {verdure stufate}

Smothered Greens - Swiss Chard (Vedure Stufate)
Some of the best Italian recipes are barely recipes at all. Almost every restaurant in Rome serves some sort of greens, ripassata in padella. This means boiling the greens (they are usually chicory, but can also be spinach, Swiss chard, broccoletti or any combination of those), draining them, then re heating the cooked greens, in a pan, with olive oil, garlic and a bit of red pepper.

Couldn’t be better.

Except it can.

There is another way of cooking greens that is not only easier, but (in my humble opinion) even more delicious. Rather than employ the two step process described above (and get two pans dirty!) this other way of cooking greens all takes place in one easy pot.

Heat oil, throw in garlic and red pepper, and a few tomatoes. Then add the chopped greens and a bit of water. Cover and let cook until done.

This way is called stufato, which roughly translates as stewed or smothered. I think this way is better mostly because you’re not losing any of the nutrients (and so taste) into the boiling water. It all gets cooked together. Plus, the addition of a few tomatoes makes the minimal cooking water into a kind of sauce that turns simple greens into so much more.

Yesterday I cooked up a big bunch of Swiss chard this way. Thick white stems and dark green leaves: it all went into the pot with a few canned tomatoes. This, plus some bread and a wedge of cheese was lunch.

I’ll write the recipe for you below. But I feel like I’m cheating a bit. Because it isn’t really very much of a recipe is it?
Swiss chard


red pepper flakes

canned tomatoes

Swiss Chard
smothered greens

Like I said, this isn’t much of a recipe. Feel free to play around with any greens you want. And if you don’t like things spicy, don’t add the red pepper. Adding a few anchovies is a nice touch, though. Or anything you want, really. But keep it simple. That’s the brilliant thing about this recipe dish.

1 bunch of Swiss Chard
1 cup canned  tomatoes (or a few fresh ones if in season)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup water

Clean the greens and chop them roughly. Don’t worry about drying them off too well.

Pour olive oil into large saute pan. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Let cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes, and their juices. Let cook for about 10 minutes. Add the greens, and about a tsp of salt. Add the cup of water, cover, and let cook until greens are well done.

This is not about simply wilting the greens. You really want to smother them, so that all the flavors meld together. This chard took about a half hour to cook.

And a lot less to eat.
Smothered Greens - Swiss Chard (Vedure Stufate)

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone


  1. Sharli says

    I love the idea of adding tomatoes. I braise greens the same way, but use anchovy in with the garlic and red pepper flakes, and add some lemon slices in with the greens. I’ll try your tomato way for a change of pace!

  2. says

    Lucia it can be dinner. We make this a meal by adding some beans and Italian sausage. There are so many possibilities to this recipe. I sometimes forget about adding the tomatoes, thank you for reminding me. A little Parmesan cheese grated on top isn’t bad either.

  3. says

    Mmmm! I have some beautiful chard growing in our greenhouse right now. I think this shall be dinner tonight. When the low temperature is going to be 16 degrees.

    This one will warm a body good :)

  4. says

    We eat this way nightly. Only I dont have those amazing Umbrian, home-grown, put-up-in-your-own-kitchen tomatoes to go with. If only….Currently grooving on a combo of savoy cabbage and Cavolo Nero (oddly called ‘Dinosaur Kale’ here). Switch up the sauce (tamari, rice wine vinegar, a splash of maple syrup and a squirt of Sriracha) and you go Asian. Ten-minute, one-pot cooking keeps this working woman happy with a good, fresh dinner every night.

  5. Randy DeFrancesco says

    I am new to your Blog but was very much drawn to it, with all my grandparent coming from Sicily, there was an immediate connection.
    This recipe was one I learned to cook very early. The only difference was the addition of a few new potatoes and some diced Romano or Parm which soften into wonderful little bites of flavor. Oh, and a drizzle of olive oil. Dunking the bread in that simple sauce is such a pleasure. Every person that eats this kind stufato, raves about it. As a child it was what the poor ate, now I can hardly think of a more elegant way to glorify chard. I’m look forward to the future, and your recipes.

  6. says

    Making this right now. I took your advice and added the anchovies and also a touch of red wine. I am using broccoli greens because we have an abundance in the garden. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.