Friday, September 26, 2014

Collard Greens with Toasted Coconut and Almonds

"What would make my life complete right now is a giant bowl of collard greens," said absolutely no one ever. Collard greens just aren't one of those go-to side dishes that bring about jubilation and great cheer amongst dinner guests. On top of that, I typically suck at sides (pardon my French) so I'm tempted to say you shouldn't trust me here. Except that you should. I'm going to be real with you for a second and confess that the only reason collard greens ever even entered my kitchen was because Trader Joe's began stocking them and I purchased them out of obligation. It's like this unwritten expectation amongst those in my profession, my dietitian-duty I guess you could say. Holy smokes! But have you ever had collard greens with toasted coconut and almonds? Umm yeah. No one dare cast judgment on the lowly collard until they've given this recipe a shot.

Due to some stuff going on in our personal lives right now, the other night my husband and I found ourselves eating a 5 PM dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches at Children's Hospital. Thrilling, I know. We arrived home late and rallied the kids into bed before we collapsed on the couch to the background serenade of our growling stomachs. Our sandwiches had long since burnt off and we were both left with that empty sensation that could only be explained by our unfulfilling "dinner." My husband left my side and headed to the kitchen for a fridge raid, and to my surprise, returned with none other than a bowl of these leftover coconut collards. He looked at me and said "These are so amazing!" as he shoveled them down. So yeah, that's never happened before. I guess there are some of us who find completeness in collards.

I'm not sure if it's the coconut or the coconut oil or the almonds or the garlic that make this dish. Or maybe it's the basil? The recipe contains such an odd conglomeration of ingredients that create a phenomenal result. And please, whatever you do, do not skip the fish sauce! I know it's an uncomfortable ingredient for some. Go light on it at first if you must, but it adds an exciting complexity to this dish that one mustn't deprive the collards of. The original recipe calls for 3 bunches of collard greens but I usually just buy the bag of pre-shredded greens from Trader Joe's which I'd imagine contains substantially less collards. I bet you could get by with 1 1/2 or even 2 of the Trader Joe's bags and keep the remaining ingredient measurements the same but I like the stronger flavors in my ratio so I do it as follows:

Collard Greens with Toasted Coconut and Almonds
(adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
¼ cup shredded coconut 
¼ cup raw almonds 
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1 (10 oz) bag shredded collard greens 
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves 
1 teaspoon (or more) apple cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon fish sauce 
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce 
Kosher salt 
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out coconut and almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate and coarsely chop the almonds.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add collard greens a handful at a time, tossing until wilted between additions. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes longer. Add basil, vinegar, fish sauce, and soy sauce; season with salt, red pepper flakes, and more vinegar, if desired. Serve topped with coconut and almonds.

Serves 4

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posted by kelsie