Collard Greens with Spaghetti
– one small bunch collard greens, center ribs removed (either discard or save for use with upcoming recipe ‘Collard Stem, Sweet Potato, and Cilantro Gratin’ — another take on this recipe)
– 2 slices all natural / organic / home-made bacon (please see this post for a discussion of ethically sourced meat)
– 6 oz good quality dried spaghetti (or homemade)
Stack the collard leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Thinly slice the greens into 1/4 -1/2 inch ribbons. Slice the bacon into 1/2 inch strips.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook until al-dente (or however you like your noodles), about 10-12 minutes.
In the mean time, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Add collard green ribbons to the same pot and toss with rendered bacon fat. Cover, and let cook for about 1 minute. Uncover, stir, re-cover and let cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add bacon back into pan. Remove from heat.
When noodles are done cooking, drain, reserving about 1/2 c. of their cooking liquid. Add noodles and a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid to bacon and collards and stir to mix. Serve plain or with a generous grating of hard salty cheese (parmesan, gruyere, manchego, etc.)
(If you’re a garlic lover, feel free to add 2-3 minced cloves to the bacon fat just before adding the collards. Another nice addition is about 1/2 t. dried chili flakes)
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Sometimes I like to make what I think of as ‘Terry Riley‘ or ‘Mark Rothko‘ dishes — minimalist cooking, if you will. I find myself craving dishes where the flavors and clean and simple, and the taste and texture of every ingredient is at the forefront. (If you’re curious, Terry Riley is a composer of new music that is often considered one of the fathers of minimalist music; one of the first minimalist pieces I studied was ‘In C‘, a piece of indeterminate length and aleatoric content, that is entirely in the key of C, i.e no sharps or flats; Mark Rothko is a painter (some would call him an abstract expressionist though he rejected the label) whose most famous works are simple blocks of color, usually with soft edges).
The recipe above has a subtle, clean taste that can stand up on its own, especially when you want something that is both filling and rejuvenating (don’t give me that look — you know what I mean– sometimes the body craves something simple and healthful). With every bite, you should taste the mild and chewy pasta, the deep and earthy flavor of the collards, and the smoky richness of the bacon. Nothing more, nothing less.
If you’re not in the mood for subtlety though, you can make the flavors a little more bold by adding some minced garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, a little tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, some crumbled feta, or some grated hard and salty cheese. Enjoy!