Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweet Smokey Miso Collards with Pickled Ginger...

Greens are amazing, everyone should know that by now and if you don’t it’s time for you to wake up. Dark leafy green vegetables are one of the most vital, healthful foods we can eat, in fact calorie for calorie they are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! They are absolutely loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, and have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits as well as cholesterol lowering properties. Collards in particular really rock out at the top of the list. 1 cup of cooked collards contains a mere 49 calories! Yet it also packs 880% of your daily vitamin K, 118% of vitamin A, 57% of vitamin C, 53% of manganese, 45% of your Folate, nearly 25% of your Calcium, 20% Fiber, 15% Potassium, nearly 15% Vitamin B6, & B2, 10% Protein, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fatty acids and roughly 8% of your daily Iron. That’s all in just ONE cup! Incredible right? And people wonder where Vegans and Vegetarians get our nutrients from!

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking "But collards are boring, they’re bland etc..." but you couldn’t be more wrong. I truly believe that culturally we have such a negative opinion of greens, because we’ve never really eaten them cooked properly. All to often our parents either undercooked and under seasoned our greens so that they were tough and bland. Or worse, they overcooked our greens, boiled them down until they were a watery slimy mush. Definitely not appetizing. However when greens are cooked properly and seasoned well, they are the most scrumptious thing, and the more you eat them the more you’ll crave them. The other fantastic thing about them is that they’re quick and easy to cook. At most they take about 10 minutes, and who doesn’t like that?

I know the other big problem with greens is trying to find inventive ways to incorporate them into our diets daily. Ideally we should be eating some kind of dark leafy green each day, though I know most of us don’t. I too occasionally slip into a pattern of neglecting my greens, and in all honesty when I don’t eat them regularly I start to feel a bit sluggish. The past month in particular I’ve been neglecting them, but over the past few days I’ve been back on track.

The following recipe I whipped up for lunch today, and man was it good. Seriously the flavors mingled so well, that the dish exceeded all expectations. So give it a try. Introduce your tastebuds to a new way of thinking about greens and I promise you will fall in love.

Sweet Smokey Miso Collards with Pickled Ginger

For the Collards

1 ½ - 2 Bunches Collard Greens chopped into bite size pieces, large ribs removed
1-2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion chopped
8-10 Garlic Cloves minced (or to taste)

For the Sauce

1/2C Water (or more or less to taste)
2 Tbsp Mellow White Miso
1 Tbsp Agave (or to taste)
1-2 tsp Liquid Smoke (or to taste)
Dash of black pepper

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp pickled ginger (or to taste) (Optional but highly recommended)

- Place sesame oil into a large pan and heat to medium.

- Mince garlic, chop onions and add to the heated pan. Saute, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, until onions are soft and translucent. About 7-10 minutes.

- While onions and garlic are sauteeing, chop your collards. I find the easiest way is to run my knife down one side of the rib until I have a huge piece, then do the same along the other side of the rib so that the rib is removed but all the leaf is intact. Then I fold the halves, slice them in half lengthwise once, and then cross-wise into bite sized pieces. When done set your chopped collards aside.

- To make your dressing whisk together the water, white miso, liquid smoke, black pepper, and agave nectar. Taste for flavor and adjust as needed. Though with the liquid smoke I suggest adding it in 1 tsp at a time, and once you’ve reached 2 tsp add it in at a 1/4 - 1/2tsp increments.

- When onions and garlic are ready add the collards to the pan. Mix until evenly coated with oil, garlic and onion then cover and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add in your sauce stirring to evenly coat and cook another 3 minutes. You want your collards to decrease in size slightly and break down a bit. You want them to be soft, with just a hint of firmness to them. You don’t want them to be chewy or mushy. If after a total of 6 minutes your collards still aren’t quite there give them another 2 minutes.

- When collards are cooked, add the 1 tbsp lemon juice and stir to mix. It’ll really make the flavor pop, and brighten up the greens a bit. Then distribute evenly amongst 2 plates. (Or pile one plate super high) and add in the ginger. About 1 tbsp sliced pickled ginger per serving, or more or less to taste. This is entirely optional but super delicious. It gives the collards a little something extra, a nice sweet gingery bite.

Enjoy as part of your main course, a first course, or a side dish.

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