Monday, October 11, 2010
CSA Box of Treats: Collard Greens
Each week I open my box of organic vegetables and am surprised by what I find.
Last week I found a large green-leafed head of collard greens in my box. Although I live in the South now, I am from the Northeast, so cooking collard greens is simply not in my repertoire of vegetable side dishes. Faced with the task of preparing these enormous green leaves for the first time, I quickly went on line to find a recipe. After weeding out anything that required me to be in the kitchen for more than 30 minutes, I settled on a simple collard greens and bacon recipe. I rushed out to the grocery store to buy the bacon, came home and cooked up delicious collard greens of which I am sure even a real southerner would approve.
This week when I opened my box, I found another large bouquet of collard greens. I gave the impressive green leaves a wink and made a mental note to swing by the grocery store for more bacon. One thing led to another that afternoon and I ended up skipping my quick trip to the store. Then I got to thinking, why was I in such a rush to buy bacon again? The reason I didn’t have bacon lying around in the fridge is because I don’t usually cook with it. I love bacon but it is not something I buy every week. Why am I rushing out to buy bacon for the second time in 1-1/2 week? Oh yeah, I need bacon for the collard greens recipe.
Hmmm…. That doesn’t sound right. I signed up for my weekly organic veggie box in order to eat more organic vegetables not to add large amounts of bacon to my diet. Vegetables shouldn’t require fat and salt in order to taste good. Sure, bacon with collard greens is a delicious side dish. But if I am going to eat it every week, I need a new strategy.
In general there are 3 rules of thumb that I try to stick to in my kitchen:
1. Cook with what is on hand. I don’t let a missing ingredient keep me from making a home cooked meal. Instead, I put together whatever I have even if that means making new variations of familiar dishes. In other words, I improvise.
2. Cook simple dishes that do not require long prep or cooking durations. I love to cook but I don’t have the time or the energy to stand in my kitchen all day long. I like to chop it and cook it, and maybe give it a stir or a flip and then move on with my day.
3. Make it healthy. I try to cook with all fresh ingredients, salt only enough for flavor and use extra virgin olive oil as much as possible.
If I apply my 3 rules of thumb to me and my collard greens having a stare-down in my kitchen, it would seem that I do not need to rush off to the store for bacon. Instead, I reach into my box of organic vegetables to see what else I have on hand. “Garlic, and green pepper,” I say aloud as I reach into the box, “I can do something with those too.”
So Here is the recipe that I improvised in order to prove my point; collard greens do not NEED bacon in order to taste good. Enjoy!
Collard Greens (hold the bacon)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp pepper
Several dashes of hot sauce(to taste)
2lbs collard greens (or 1 large head), rinsed, center stem removed, cut into strips and then cut in half again
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 1 small green pepper, chopped, or several stalks of celery, chopped
Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil over a medium flame for 3 minutes. Add any optional vegetables (other than the grens) and cook for another 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Stir and bring to a slow boil. Add collard greens and stir. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the greens have fully wilted and lost their bright green color. Serve warm in their juice as a side dish.
Posted by Rosalie Ezekiel at 12:38 PM