Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eat Your Greens: Vegetarian "Southern Style" Collard Greens

"Almost any southerner who is a respectable cook has a recipe for collard greens" 

There is history in this pot of leafy greens which is firmly rooted in the African-American communities of the deep south.  Family recipes are handed down from generation to generation.  Collard greens have been available for centuries but it was in the South that collard greens evolved and became part of present day southern cuisine.

Collard greens are slowly cooked producing a "low gravy" and often cornbread is dipped into the concentrated flavorful broth.  If you have never enjoyed collard greens, you are missing out on something really special.

My garden became my foundation for the inspiration to learn how to prepare real southern greens. Collard greens thrive in the mild southern winters and the first frost always adds a sweetness to the leafy greens.  Bending down in the soil to clip the large leafy green leaves from my plant it is understood "soul" is an essential element in the preparation of a pot of greens.  There have been countless pots of collard greens over the last two years in an honest effort to present a pot of greens worthy of respect.  Creating a savory broth with a slight kick is the goal.  I experimented using smoked turkey wings and necks, bacon, to the traditional ham hocks. There were a few hot sauces and pepper vinegars too.

A vegetarian version of collard greens cooked slowly in a rich vegetable broth flavored with onion and garlic, sautéed in olive oil with a pat of butter with a pinch of red pepper flakes would prove to be my pot of collard greens worthy of respect.

There is no meat but there is no sacrificing of flavor here. I think the southerners would agree.

Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul. 
~Dorothy Day

Vegetarian "Southern Style" Collard Greens
Serves 4-6
Recipe adapted from Sunny Anderson

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound collard greens, chopped 
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into large chunks (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter.  Sauté the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic, cook another minute.  Add collard greens and cook another minute.  Add vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer.  Add carrots. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.  Add tomatoes, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Savoring the Season: Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples

The pleasure of simple, warm comfort foods this time of year is irresistible. With cooler weather comes new cravings.  Cravings for heartier and more substantial dishes (think homemade mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes, creamy soups, chicken pot pie and meat loaf).  We might crave comforting classic dishes but we don't like piling on the pounds that can stick around long after the winter thaw.

This easy to prepare pork tenderloin is a one pot wonder.  The dish highlights the flavors of fall with warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander.  Add the sweetness of fresh apples, followed by a savory addition of shallots and thyme, and you have a feeling of satisfaction and comfort without guilt.

If you are thinking about cooking up some healthier options this holiday season consider adding this one to your recipe file.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples
Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 pieces
Cooking Spray
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced unpeeled Braeburn or Gala apple
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider or unprocessed apple juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1.  Heat a large heavy skillet  over medium high heat.  Combine first 5 ingredients; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over pork.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.  Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

2.  Melt butter in pan; swirl to coat.  Add apple slices, shallots, salt; saute 4 minutes or until apple starts to brown.  Add apple cider or juice to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until apple is crisp tender.  Stir in thyme leaves.  Serve apple mixture with the pork.