Cooking from My CSA: Collard Greens

As I briefly mentioned in my last post (otherwise known as the first post in months), I joined the Harvest Moon Farm CSA this year. For those of you not in the know – Mom, I’m talking to you – a CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Essentially, before the growing season even starts, you pay for a share in a farm’s crop, which for me comes to half a box of produce each week from mid-June until November. It’s uber convenient as the box gets delivered to my office building every Wednesday afternoon, and then I go to the farmers’ market on Saturday to supplement with produce that wasn’t in the box.

My weekly take is half a box because I’m splitting a share with a friend, who last week started a fire by microwaving fennel. That’s another story, but the point is that I might have to take the rest of the fennel this year even though I don’t like it because she just can’t be trusted.

I’ve been having fun experimenting with my CSA box and seeing what I can make out of it each week. Really, I’m enjoying the challenge of 1) using everything in my box, and 2) trying new veggies/new ways to prepare them. Often times I wind up focusing on just a few of the vegetables, then find myself with the rest starting to wilt on Monday night. This leads to a lot of last minute roasted veggie or stir-fry dishes that I take to work with quinoa. It’s good, but lacking a little creativity.

A few nights ago I focused on the collard greens, something I don’t eat often. I buy a lot of chard and kale, but usually stay away from the collards. Not sure why exactly, but I think maybe it’s because I had the impression it’s tougher than the other varieties.

That night I prepared the collard greens with delicious multi-colored carrots I’d picked up at the market along with bacon, garlic and lemon juice. That was pretty much it – super simple, very fresh and filling, and a great way to really taste and enjoy the collard greens. I was surprised to discover that they were more mild tasting than the others, which can sometimes be slightly bitter. I’m definitely a collard greens convert – bring ‘em on!

Here’s what I did, it’s really more of a guide than a straight-up recipe:

Carrots & Collards – serves 2 as a side dish

2 slices bacon, diced

1 cup diced carrots (I used 3 smallish carrots, each about 4-inches long)

4 garlic cloves, minced

5 large leaves collard greens, stems removed and leaves cut in half (layer the leaves on top of each other, then roll lengthwise into a long cigar and cut into 1/3-inch wide pieces)

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Set a saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan and set on a paper towel; leave the bacon fat in the pan.

Add the carrots to the saute pan and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 second to 1 minute or until fragrant.

Stir in the collard greens and cook until lightly wilted and bright green, about 3 minutes. Add the water and simmer, uncovered, until the greens are tender and the water has evaporated, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss with reserved bacon and serve hot.


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