Stir-Fried Greens with Garlic and Chile

These spiced and tender greens paired with mouth-numbing Szechuan peppercorns are a versatile side dish perfect for rounding out any meal.

Stir-Fried Greens with Chile and Garlic

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Total Time:
50 mins
6 to 8

This recipe for spicy stir-fried amaranth, a hearty, sustaining green with a flavor similar to spinach, gets a triple dose of heat from dried Thai chiles, chile powder, and pleasantly numbing Szechuan peppercorns. If you can’t find amaranth, the recipe also works with a variety of different kinds of leafy greens, including chrysanthemum greens or spinach. If substituting other greens, aim to have roughly the same volume of greens, not the same weight. (And yes, 22 cups might seem like a lot, but it cooks down almost immediately.) If you are using spinach, remove the stems and only cook the leaves. If you are using other greens, taste them toward the end of cooking and add more salt or chiles if needed. Cutting the amaranth leaves crosswise and briefly covering the wok while cooking them breaks down the fibrous leaves and gives them a pleasantly soft, chewy texture.

​​Szechuan peppercorn is a citrusy-tasting spice that creates a tingly, numbing sensation in the mouth and can be found in Asian grocery stores. Find Szechuan peppercorns at and Big Green Food dried chile powder at For a more moderate amount of spiciness, omit the chile powder and Szechuan peppercorns and use only the whole dried chiles, which can be removed before serving.


  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • 8 large garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped (about 3 tablespoons), divided

  • 22 cups packed amaranth leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped crosswise (from 4 pounds greens), or spinach leaves, stemmed, divided 

  • 12 dried red Thai chiles, broken in half, divided

  • 4 teaspoons dried chile powder (such as Big Green Food) (optional), divided 

  • 4 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorn powder (optional), divided

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup water, divided


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 14-inch wok over high until oil is very hot and fragrant. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic; stir once, and add 11 cups amaranth greens. Stir-fry, folding constantly using tongs, until leaves just begin to wilt, collapse in volume, and comfortably fit in wok, about 1 minute. Add 12 Thai chile halves, 2 teaspoons chile powder (if using), 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorn powder (if using), and 1 teaspoon salt to wok. Stir-fry over high, stirring and flipping often, until leaves are wilted, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook, undisturbed, 1 minute. Uncover and stir-fry over high, stirring and flipping often, until leaves are thoroughly wilted, tender, and chewy, about 1 minute.

  2. Transfer stir-fried greens to a medium bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining oil, garlic, amaranth leaves, Thai chile halves, chile powder (if using), Szechuan powder (if using), salt, and water.

To Make Ahead

Amaranth greens can be chopped and stored in large ziplock plastic bags in refrigerator up to 1 day before cooking.

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