Greens cooked with hot peppers and garlic are a staple in my house, and here they combine with an ideal companion a creamy polenta laced with tangy goat cheese. Because polenta is best served as soon as it is cooked, I like to have the greens completely cooked and kept warm on the back burner once I am ready to prepare the polenta.

SERVES 4

1ВЅ pounds mixed greens (kale, escarole, spinach, Swiss chard)

Вј cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

Вј teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Вј teaspoon salt

POLENTA

3ВЅ cups vegetable stock

Вј teaspoon salt

1Вј cups cornmeal

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 ounces (about Вѕ cup) crumbled goat cheese

  1. Tear any coarse stems off the greens and discard them. Separate thicker greens, such as kale and escarole, from quicker-cooking ones, such as spinach and Swiss chard. Thoroughly wash and spin the greens to get rid of any sand. Keep in separate piles.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until barely colored, not brown. Immediately add the coarser greens with the liquid that clings to them and toss to coat with the garlic mixture. Cover the pan and steam just until wilted.
  3. Mix in the remaining greens and cover again. Cook a few more minutes, or until wilted and tender. Season with the salt and keep warm on the back burner.
  4. In a medium saucepan bring the vegetable stock and salt to a boil. Very slowly drizzle in the cornmeal, whisking all the while with a wire whisk. Over medium heat continue to whisk until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and Parmesan cheese to blend. Just before serving stir in the goat cheese just until evenly distributed but with some chunks remaining visible.
  5. To serve, spoon polenta onto each serving plate and top with the mixed greens.