Last weekend, I stopped by Native Roots Market for some groceries, hoping to find some inspiration while I was there. Some beautiful, local collard greens from my friends at Peach Crest Farm caught my eye. It seems strange that after living in the borderline-Southern state of Oklahoma my whole life, I’d never tried collard greens. I’ve been trying to branch out and try different kinds of produce, so into the basket went the collard greens.
At home, I tore off a little piece and nibbled on it, raw. Nothing special, tasted sort of like kale. Later, I recalled some collard wraps I’ve seen in blogland and tried using blanched collard leaves as wraps for the last of my lentil curry. The taste wasn’t worth the effort.
Then I recalled my friend Matt telling me how great collard greens are when they’re sliced super thin, so I got to googling. I googled my way past all the slow-cooked, bacon-heavy Paula Deen recipes and found a tutorial for Brazilian collard greens.
The idea is to slice the greens as thin as possible, and sauté them for just a few minutes, until they’re dark green and fragrant. The technical term for this slicing technique is chiffonade. I tried cooking up one big leaf in this manner for “dessert” and hello, lover! I’m smitten with collard greens. This lively spaghetti dish came to me as I twirled my fork in those spicy, skinny greens and fortunately, it is just as good in reality as it was in my head.
I don’t know whether to call this recipe Southern due to the collard greens, or Brazilian because of the method, or Italian since it’s a pasta dish. Southern-Brazilian-Italian fusion, anyone? Never mind. Whatever you want to call this dish, it’s spicy and bright, with bold lemon flavor, and comes together in a flash! The one-to-one ratio of whole wheat spaghettini to produce is just the way I like my pasta. I hope you’ll give collard greens another chance with this lemony pasta recipe.
- 8 ounces fresh collard greens (about 10 big leaves)
- ⅓ or more of a package of whole wheat thin spaghetti or “spaghettini”
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- olive oil (the good stuff)
- 2 small cloves garlic, pressed
- big pinch red pepper flakes
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
- ½ or more of a lemon, cut into wedges
- Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to directions. Drain quickly, reserving a bit of cooking water, and set aside.
- Cut out the center rib of each collard green. Stack a few greens at a time and roll them up into a cigar-like shape. Slice across the roll as thinly as possible (1/8″ to ¼″). Shake up the greens and give them a few chops so the strands aren’t so long.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed 12″ skillet over medium heat and toast the pine nuts until they start to turn golden and fragrant. Pour them out of the skillet and save for later.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle in a big pinch of red pepper flakes and the garlic and stir. Once the oil is hot enough to shimmer, toss in all of your collard greens. Sprinkle the greens with salt. Stirring often (try not to let them clump), sauté the greens for about three minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat. Scoop the greens into the pasta pot and toss with another drizzle of olive oil, adding pasta water if necessary. Divide onto plates, top with pine nuts and Parmesan shavings and serve with two big lemon wedges per person.
- Serves two.
- Although I haven't tried it, I think walnuts would make a fine substitute for the pine nuts.
- Vegans, you can totally skip the cheese. It's still great without it.
- Use a cheese plane to create Parmesan shavings. I'm over grated Parmesan; shavings are the way to go!
- Peach Crest collard greens, Bionaturae spaghettini, Canaan olive oil and pine nuts kindly provided by Native Roots Market.