I get the most amazing collard greens from my CSA. Sometimes I get an overwhelming amount of amazing collard greens from my CSA. It’s a challenge I gladly accept. I’m always trying to think of interesting ways to prepare them. This morning I put a Boston Butt pork roast in the crockpot with dinner plans for pulled pork sandwiches on homemade Focaccia bread. I was staring into the fridge and the idea of pickling the collards popped into my head. I have pickled mustard greens before and enjoyed using them as a condiment. Why not collards? Y’all, they turned out so good. They were excellent on the pulled pork sandwiches. I kind of wish I had made a double batch.
These sweet and sour collard greens would also make an excellent side dish. Just cook the collards until tender (about 20 minutes longer than stated in the recipe) and serve warm. I could easily drink the pickling/cooking liquid. : )
Pickled Collard Greens
1 large bunch of collard greens
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Wash and chop the collard greens. I usually remove the center ribs from the leaves before chopping.
In a pot over high heat, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the chopped collards and cook for 5 (for crunchy collards – these are actually better after a few days in the fridge) to 20 (for use right away as a condiment or side dish) minutes. Let the collards and pickling liquid cool and then transfer to a large Mason jar. Refrigerate at least several hours (a couple of days is even better) before use.
Lentils are a great protein source. They are inexpensive and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Their creamy texture makes them an excellent alternative to chickpeas when making hummus.
There are many different types of lentils, so you can use your favorite for this recipe. I almost always have brown lentils on hand, so that is what I use. Red lentils would be perfect too.
Lentil hummus is great as a dip with pita bread or chips and/or fresh veggies. It is also wonderful as a spread for veggie wraps or sandwiches. I like it on a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and black olives.
1 cup dried lentils (your favorite kind), picked over and rinsed
at least 2 cups water
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
Cook lentils (according to package directions) in the water until they are very tender, almost mushy. The cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentil you are using. The brown lentils I used took about 35 minutes. You may need to add water to the lentils as they cook. Keep an eye of them. Towards the end of cooking, season the lentils to taste with salt. Once done, take the lentils off the heat and drain off excess cooking liquid. Let the lentils cool.
In a food processor, blend the cooked lentils, garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne until very smooth. You may need to add a little water, about 1 tablespoon at time, to help blend the mixture. I let the food processor run for several (4 – 5) minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and check the consistency of the lentil hummus. Blend in the desired amount of salt. Taste the hummus and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
A processed cheese product (like Velveta) is often used in making Queso because it melts more smoothly. Using evaporated milk in this recipe helps the “real” cheese melt smoother and makes for a creamier consistency. The results are pretty fantastic. You can use your favorite milder, harder cheese (like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, or a Mexican cheese blend) in this recipe, but don’t use cheeses like Mozzarella, Brie, Swiss, or Goat Cheese (or obviously, Bleu Cheese).
This Queso keeps well for several days in the fridge. It reheats very well too. You can just zap it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until warmed through.
A simple dish of Chile con Queso with tortilla chips is wonderful, but you can take it to greater heights with the addition of toppings. Queso can be serious business. One of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Texas is Magnolia Café. They have the best Queso ever. Their Mag Queso is topped with avocado and Pico de Gallo. It’s amazing! The Kerbey Queso at Kerbey Lane Cafe in Austin is great too. I have also had Queso with shredded BBQ brisket, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and Pico that was delicious. There are no limits.
Creamy Chile con Queso
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 -2 jalapenos, to taste, seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican cheese blend, etc…)
1/2 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
salt, to taste
dash garlic powder
1 – 4 tablespoons milk, if necessary
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh onion, chopped
fresh avocado, diced (or guacamole)
fresh tomatoes, diced
pickled jalapeno slices
Pico de Gallo
black beans, warmed
shredded brisket, chicken, pork
cooked ground beef or sausage
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the evaporated milk a little at a time, whisking well to dissolve flour lumps. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the shredded cheese, a little at a time. Continue to whisk until all of the cheese is added and the Queso is smooth. Add the drained diced tomatoes, salt, and garlic powder. If the Queso is too thick, you can add a little milk, about a tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency. Serve the Queso warm, topped with desired toppings (I like fresh avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and chopped tomatoes) alongside tortilla chips.
This colorful salsa, eaten with tortilla chips is a tasty snack. It is also a nice addition to tacos, fajitas, or rice bowls. It can even be eaten on its own as a side dish or salad of sorts. It keeps well in the fridge for a week or so.
Poblano chiles (fresh or roasted) can be substituted for the bell pepper and jalapenos.
1 pound frozen corn
1/2 large onion, small dice (red onion looks pretty with corn)
1/2 green bell pepper, small dice (you could also use red bell peppers)
2 jalapenos, or to taste, minced
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
kosher salt, to taste
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the frozen corn and cook, stirring often, until heated through and starting to char. Cooking it this way really brings out the sweetness of the corn. Let the corn cool completely.
Once the corn is cooled, add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Taste and add more lime juice or kosher salt, if needed.
Don’t you just love hand pies? They are fun. And tasty. And portable. Stuffed with a savory filling, they are great for the lunch box or for breakfast on the go.
Get creative with the filling. Different greens (like kale) and cheeses lend way to a wide range of possibilities. I considered adding drained black-eyed peas to the filling. It is something I will definitely try in the future.
Collards and Goat Cheese Hand Pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup fat (use butter or shortening or a combination of both)
1 large bunch collard greens, washed, ribs removed, and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
crushed red pepper
1 egg, beaten
Make the crust first. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and black pepper. Cut the butter and/or shortening into the dry mixture with a fork or pastry blender. Add the ice cold water one tablespoon at a time until dough comes together (5 tablespoons seems to be just about right most of the time). Divide the dough into two halves and flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer while you prepare the collards.
Preheat the oven to 375º F.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring, until they start to brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the chopped collards and 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cook until the collards are wilted and somewhat tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Let the mixture cool slightly.
Remove the dough from the freezer. Divide it into 10 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape it into a ball and then roll out into an approximately 6-inch circle on a floured surface. They don’t have to be perfect, you can trim them later. Place 1/10 of the collards mixture on the bottom half of the circle. Crumble a tablespoon or so of goat cheese on top of the collards filling.
Fold down the top portion of the dough over the filling and crimp with a fork. Trim the edges with a knife. Place the hand pie on the baking sheet. Cut a couple of small slits on the top of the hand pie (or pierce a couple of times with a fork). Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush each hand pie with the beaten egg. Bake at 375º for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This is the second recipe I made with the rind I had from the Bradford watermelon I got a week or so ago. I wrote a little bit about the Bradford watermelon here. Bradford watermelons have a rind that is perfect for pickling because it is a bit thicker than what you find on most readily available watermelons.
Typically, at least in the South, watermelon rind pickles are sweet and seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and cloves. I’m not a big fan of sweet pickles, so I wanted to try making them as I would cucumber pickles, savory with dill. I loved the way they turned out.
Dill Watermelon Rind Refrigerator Pickles
watermelon rind from 1/4 to 1/2 a watermelon (depending on size)
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled
dill seed and/or dill weed
3 pint-sized Mason jars, sterilized
Cut the watermelon rind into strips about 1-inch wide. Cut off the outer green skin. Next cut off any remaining pink/red flesh. Cut the rind into 1-inch pieces. You want about 5 cups of watermelon rind chunks.
Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the watermelon rind chunks and cook 1 minute. Cool slightly.
Add one clove of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon dill seed, and 1/4 teaspoon dill weed (or 1/2 teaspoon of just dill seed or just dill weed) to each of the 3 Mason jars. Divide the watermelon rind chunks and brine between the jars. Make sure the watermelon rind chunks are submerged in the brine. Wipe the rim of the jars with a paper towel and screw on the lids. Place in the refrigerator. Wait at least 1 week before eating.
I haven’t had much luck with black bean dips until now. This one is excellent. I served it at a small get-together recently and it disappeared quickly. I think the recipe can be easily doubled, if need be. I adapted this recipe from one for Black Bean Hummus with Queso Fresco found in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light.
Black Bean Dip
For the dip:
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained (set aside about a tablespoon of the black beans for topping)
3 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 tablespoon)
red onion, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 tablespoon)
tortilla chips (or pita chips)
fresh crudités (carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc…)
Process all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the dip to a serving dish and top with the reserved whole black beans, crumbled goat cheese, chopped red onion, and fresh cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips and/or fresh crudités.