Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Collards and Kluski Noodles

I feel just a little unqualified to cook collard greens, but they've consistently been at the farmers market since the spring, so I guess it's time to man up. Plus, collards seem to be universally loved south of the Mason-Dixon, so it's a worthy endeavor. The trick, as I've been told by many a Southern gentleman, is to cook the living shit out of them. When you think they're done, give them another half hour, and any bitterness once existing in these mammoth greens will melt away, revealing tender, savory, healthy vegetable flavor.
Garlic, Tomato, and Kluski Noodles!
So since I'll need something nice for lunch tomorrow, I've decided to make a dish with the greens, some lovely noodles that my mother in law picked up for us some time ago from Amish country called Kluski noodles, and a bursting at the seams, shiny, ripe tomato. Oh, and garlic, and hot pepper flakes, which are welcome at any savory party, as dictated by my rule book of attendees welcomed at a savory party. Alright, enough stalling; onto this delicious, easy recipe.
1. First thing is first. Set two pots of salted water onto the stove, and apply high heat. You'll need one pot of the boiling water in order to wilt down the greens. The second pot is for the noodles.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, you can prep your collards. The collards that are available at Kimball Fruit Farm stand come in humongous bunches for about $2.50. I'd say I had about twenty or so huge leaves from my batch, enough to fill my large pot of water on the stove. When the water boiled, I threw in the greens, and allowed it to rigorously boil for about a half hour. But you can really do no wrong with this one. After a good amount of time to wilt in the water, you'll saute away. Stay tuned. 
3. Whenever the other pot of water is boiling, you can throw in your noodles and cook accordingly. While we used the Kluski noodles, about two big handfuls, you really can use any noodles that you like, and then cook until tender. By the way, if you ever do get to head off to Amish country in Pennsylvania, these are delicious noodles. They appear so thin and feeble when dry, but fluff up nicely after cooked. They're delicious in any type of meal as this. When the noodles are tender, go ahead and drain and give a quick rinse to stop the cooking.
Simmering tomatoes and garlic
4. While your noodles and greens simmer away, you can prep your other parts of this recipe. Peel and roughly chop a nice ripe tomato, and go ahead and finely dice about five large cloves of garlic. Set a large saute pan onto the stove on low heat, add a bit of salt and pepper, and simmer your garlic and tomato in about two tablespoons of canola oil for about ten minutes. 
5. By the time you've got your act together with the tomatoes and garlic, odds are your greens are nice and wilted. Using tongs, I like to grab a bunch out of the boiling water, give them a little shake to get rid of excess liquid, and bit by bit directly throw these into the slowly simmering tomato and garlic mixture. Give this all a toss, and allow all the greens to meld with the flavor of the tomatoes and cook down further. I also like to sprinkle a bit of hot pepper flake onto the collards and give everything a good mix after they've had a few minutes to cook down in the saute pan. 
6. You can pretty much let the greens cook down as long as time allows, stirring every five minutes or so. The longer they simmer, the more flavor they release, and the further that they are enriched by the flavor of garlic, tomato and spicy pepper flakes. But when you're ready, you're ready. Go ahead and add your noodles, and give everything a quick toss. Five minutes longer to let the flavor of all your veggies soak into your noodles and you're done.
Collards and Kluski Noodles
This is a simple, straightforward recipe. You really can't mess it up. The trick is to just let it go, let it simmer longer, and add your noodles at the end. It makes for an excellent lunch, and a relatively healthy one at that, with all those delicious fresh greens. It may not be slow simmered collards with a ham hock, but let's just call it a New England, fall flavor adaptation.

20 leaves of collards
5 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 tomato
Approximately 2 cups of Amish Country Kluski noodles
Salt and pepper

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