As you may have already gathered from its rather humdrum, self-explanatory title, this post is not about sexy food. It is not about the kind of food that you ooh and ahh over; the kind of food that you present with garnish and flourish. This is not the kind of food you rave about to your friends and take home to meet the parents.
No, my friend: “collards in both” is just what it sounds like. It won’t surprise you, leap out and bite you, or take you for a wild ride. It’s plain-old comfy food: light, simple, and nourishing; soothing to the stomach and the soul.
(If you’re in the mood for some sexy collards, though, definitely try this. I sure am, the next batch of collards I get my hands on!)
So I’ve been feeling a little sad lately. Either as a result of this, or simply because misery loves company, my stomach has been equally unhappy; moody and fussy like an over-tired two-year-old who simply refuses to keep down his vegetables. Toast and tea and clear soup are just about all I can stomach these days… literally… also just about all I can afford.
That said, I also hate waste… and felt compelled to adopt a large bunch of lonely collard greens that remained at the end of a long chilly afternoon outside at the farmstand.
Take a glum girl, chilled to the bones, with a big bunch of collards in hand and a craving for chicken soup and voila: collards in broth.
It’s not much to look at, sure; I warned you about that already. This isn’t fancy fare. Really all it is is onion, garlic, a handful of chickpeas, a pinch of cumin and a big bunch of collards simmered in chicken broth and a bit of butter and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice. Oh, I found a stray tomato languishing in some hidden corner of my kitchen and threw that in too. Simple, really.
And yet. There is something about how it all comes together… hard to articulate, really, but something that makes it decidedly just a little bit better than the sum of its very humble parts. It’s not heavy but it’s filling, and it’s super healthy while still managing to taste good. Finally, there’s just something about a steaming bowl of slurpy, understated-looking greens that goes perfectly with a side of glum.
The next time you’re feeling down or lonely, or your tummy is feeling troubled, or you’re trying to head off a cold with a good dose of garlic and warmth, give this a try. Unlike other things in life, collards in broth won’t let you down.
Collards in Broth
- 1 big bunch of collard greens
- 1 very small hot red pepper
- 1 large yellow onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 smallish red tomatoes (about 1/2 cup chopped)
- 3-4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked (or soaked overnight)
- salt and cumin to taste
- half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon flour
Put up a big pot of well-salted water to boil. (If you need to cook your chickpeas, set up a smaller pot of salted water to boil, and simmer them for 40 minutes or until soft.) While it’s heating up, peel & chop your onion, tomatoes & garlic. De-seed and finely chop your hot pepper. (Or, alternatively, if you’re lazy like me, you can lightly smash it and leave it whole for a fun little surprise later on.) Wash your collards, and your hands (so you don’t burn your eyes later).
When the water has hit a rolling boil, dunk your collards in batches (holding the stems) for about 2 minutes each batch until bright green and soft(er). Shake off excess water and set aside on a cutting board.
Dump remaining water out of the pot and add to the pot a tablespoon of olive oil, onions, and hot pepper. Sautee on low about 5 minutes or until onion is soft and beginning to take on color. While that’s going, chop your collard leaves (holding onto the stems) into bite/slurp-sized pieces.
When onions are soft, add in garlic, tomato, and butter. Cook for another 2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, then add a pinch of cumin, chopped collards and chicken broth to cover. Bring the broth up to a low simmer, cover, and cook 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the collards have achieved that unattractive shade of dark green which means that they have plumped up and are very tender, mix together flour and lemon juice in a small cup. Add a bit of broth to thin it out, then pour the lemon mixture into the pot and stir it in. Simmer another minute or two more, taste to adjust seasonings, and you’re done.
Cozy up with a snuggly sweater, a big bowl of broth, and a good book, and gear up for a new day tomorrow.