Roasted collard greens and Brussels sprouts are embellished with polenta in a simple and hearty side dish.
Collard greens are, in my opinion, an under-appreciated leafy green — though these large leaves might look daunting, they’re easy to prepare if you know the right technique. Prepared polenta adds a bit of comfort to the dish, and briny olives give it a nice flavor twist.
This goes well with many kinds of fall meals. Since you’ve got the oven going at a high temperature, roasting a pan of potatoes or sweet potatoes combined with tempeh or baked tofu would make a nice side by side dish. Then, all you’d need is a simple or slaw to complete the meal.
Good for holidays or everyday cool weather meals: Since this makes a generous portion, it would also make a nice side dish for the fall and winter holidays. But of course, it’s easy enough to make for everyday meals.
This preparation is a good way to introduce your table-mates to collard greens in a most enticing way! Tell them that collards are good for everyone, but are especially appreciated by those following a plant based diet — they’re an excellent source of calcium.
This is the kind of polenta to use in this recipe
SINGING THE PRAISES OF COLLARD GREENS
A staple of Southern American cuisine, collards greens were the biggest surprise for me as I was researching and developing recipes for my book, Wild About Greens. To my palate, they’re tastier than kale, milder and sweeter.
A better way to prep collards: Not having been all that familiar with collards, I’d most often seen recipes calling for them to be boiled for 20 minutes or longer (sometimes a lot longer!), or braising them for an equally long time. Each time I tried these techniques, I found the semi-mushy, olive-drab results less than exciting.
Here’s the newer technique — the leaves are cut into narrow ribbons and, usually stir-fried. Preparing them in this way heightens their mild, sweet flavor.
Roasting collards, as in this recipe: Roasting ribbon-cut collard works just as well. Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising; collard greens belong to the family of cruciferous vegetables (which includes cabbage and broccoli), none of which are very appealing when overcooked, but excellent roasted.
- 1 medium-sized bunch collard greens (12 to 15 leaves)
- 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 18-ounce tube prepared polenta
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup brine-cured black olives (like Kalamata), halved
- 2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning blend
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Cut the collard green leaves away from their stems with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Stack 6 to 8 similar-sized leaf halves atop one another at a time. Roll up snugly from one of the narrow ends, then slice thinly crosswise. Chop the slices in a few places to shorten the ribbons. Place in a colander; rinse well and then blot dry.
- Coat your palms with a little of the olive oil and massage it into the collard leaves. You can do this while they’re still in the colander.
- Place the Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the vinegar and stir together.
- Cut the polenta into 12 even slices, each about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each slice into quarters to make little wedges.
- Add the polenta to the mixing bowl with the Brussels sprouts along with the bell pepper. Drizzle in the oil and transfer to a parchment-lined roasting pan.
- Roast for 20 minutes, stirring after the first 10 minutes. Then, pile the collards atop everything. After 5 minutes, they should be wilted enough to stir in with the Brussels sprouts and polenta.
- Add the olives at this point as well, and sprinkle in the seasoning blend. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until the Brussels sprouts and polenta are lightly browned here and there.
- Remove from the oven, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
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