Monday, May 4, 2009
Collard Green Puree
When I was living in Winterthur, Switzerland, my favorite street vendor was a man by the name of Hansueli. He was tall and trim with a long mane of thick curly hair. His impeccable language skills indicated that he was well traveled, as did his earthy garments. He operated a very popular crêpe stand: vegetarian, all organic, both sweet and savory. No matter the time of year, there was always a long line of eager customers. I loved the chana masala crêpe with mango pickle relish but my absolute favorite was the spinach and cheese for seven francs. It consisted of velvety smooth, pureed spinach with a sprinkling of fresh mozzarella encased in a papery-thin, warm crêpe. He folded it just so and I honored that by eating it with absolute precision.
From time to time I crave that smooth spinach. It was so much more convenient in Switzerland - Rahm Spinat was sold in a bag full of individually frozen squares, making it a snap to heat up a little or a lot. I’ve tried making it from scratch but never to the same effect… until last night.
I was pan frying halibut and thought it would look stunning atop a mound of pureed greens. Two fresh bunches of collard greens sat in my fridge so I thought, why not? A quick dip in boiling water, a sauté of onion and garlic in a hot skillet and a spin in the blender was almost all it took to create a puree that would make Hansueli proud.
* By the way, the leftovers made an incredibly tasty breakfast: a toasted crumpet spread with warm collard green puree topped with a poached egg. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Pureed Collard Greens
This makes a wonderful side dish, crêpe filling or base for a poached egg. It can also be made with spinach, kale or chard.
2 bunches collard greens, cleaned and stripped from stems
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
Milk or stock
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt to taste
Cover the bottom of a large pot with 2 inches water; heat until boiling. Add collard green leaves and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender and bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain, coarsely chop and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until melted. Add onion and garlic; sauté until translucent and soft. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
In a blender, pulse onion mixture and a third of the greens. Drizzle milk through the top as needed. Continue this process until all greens have been pureed and desired consistency has been reached.
Transfer back to saucepan and heat over medium-low. Add a pinch of nutmeg and salt to taste.