Bok Choy – “in padella”

Italy 1432

The first time I heard the expression, in Italian, “in padella” was in a trattoria in Rome which was right across the street from the apartment.  It was this little trattoria by night and a bicycle shop by day.

We ate there several times and, as is typical of dining at a trattoria more than once, we were instant “regulars” and treated as such.  What this means is that the owner/chef (chef, not cook)/waiter will suggest what is the absolute best dish of the day or the choice of preparation.

So, when I was given two choices for the preparation of greens I knew instantly which I was supposed to make because Roberto, the owner/chef/waiter, would crunch up his face, rear it back, and hold up his right hand at an angle like he was saying, “ok, which one is it going to be? Isn’t it obvious?”  Of course, the correct answer was “in padella” and since that was the only option his non verbal language indicated, I have forgotten the other one.

“In padella” means simply “in the skillet” and the method is simple:  You put enough olive oil in a skillet to cover it – not much is needed – about 1/16″ is fine.  You add a couple of cloves of garlic – peeled or unpeeled.  Then you add your greens with the rinse water shaken off of them.  You cover the skillet, let the greens sweat and wilt a little for 3-4 minutes, open the top of the skillet, stir, turn off the burner.  Put the top back on and leave another couple of minutes.  Remove the garlic cloves if they were not peeled, leave them in if you want, and serve the greens.  That is all there is to it.

If the greens you want to cook are not as tender as others, you may want to blanch them by plunging them in boiling water for 1 (one) minute, then put them in the padella.

baby bokchoi_0


3 baby bok choy

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (or more, to taste)

3 cloves of garlic

1 good dash of soy sauce


  1. Cut the baby bok choy in two, lengthwise. Wash under running water scrapping away any dirt. Shake leaving the leaves moist, not dry
  2. Optional: Bring a pan of water to boil, and blanch the bok choy for 1 minute.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet to fragrant over medium heat, add the garlic, the bok choy.  Splash some soy sauce on the bok choy.
  4.  Cover and allow to steam for about 4 minutes if not blanched, and for a shorter time if blanched.
  5. Uncover, check to see if more cooking is desired, and if not, turn heat off and re-cover.  Leave in the pan 2-3 minutes before serving.

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