For the novice cook, recipes are often riddled with vaguely familiar words whose exact meaning is unknown. Here’s a basic rundown of what it means to sauté, a key step for browning, wilting or searing ingredients in a variety of dishes, using spinach as an example.

1. Heat a pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
2. Add olive oil to the pan, spreading to cover most of the cooking surface area.

#SpoonTip: Some recipes may call for other types of cooking oil, depending on what you are sautéing.

3. Add spinach, leaving enough space in the pan to stir the food around.

Photo by Neelima Agrawa

4. Stir spinach constantly using a spatula for about 2-3 minutes, or until leaves are dark green and wilted.

Photo by Neelima Agrawa

#SpoonTip: Larger, firmer vegetables will take longer to sauté, while more finely-chopped, smaller foods such as garlic will take less time.