My mom is from Texas, and I lived there for four years, so I am a bit of a Southern girl at heart. I like fried okra, really hot weather, and smiling at people I don’t know (not as much of a thing here in Boston, unfortunately).
As a true Texan, my mom gets really excited about greens, but I was never able to share in her excitement until now. When I was a kid she often worked to recreate the greens my grandmother used to make, which started with salt pork and reportedly ended up as a fabulous and memorable side dish. I never had the chance to try my grandmother’s greens, so I can’t really say how my mom’s versions compared, but as a child I felt exasperation and dread whenever my mother picked up those gargantuan leaves at the store. I just didn’t like collard greens.
Solea changed my mind. It’s a tapas restaurant in Waltham where I always used to go for my birthday, and my mom liked it so much that now we go every July for hers. This recipe is my take on their grelos gallegos, or collard greens with pine nuts and raisins. I added kale because I had some in the fridge, and bacon because it hasn’t failed me yet–it makes everything I add it to better (and I’m not quite Southern enough to cook with salt pork–at least not yet). I actually prefer my version to Solea’s not just because of the bacon, but also because I use less garlic, which allows the other flavors to shine. (I do, however, still highly recommend that you go to Solea for tapas. The lamb meatballs are one of my favorite dishes of all time. I haven’t been able to recreate them at home, perhaps in part because I refuse to shell out for black truffles.)
My mom hasn’t gotten to try my version of these greens yet because I ended up eating the entire batch for breakfast, but I plan to make them for her soon and feel sure she will approve.
What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts on collard greens, the South, tapas, or whatever else comes to mind!
Yield: 4 side dish servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups chopped collard greens
1/3 cup raisins + 1/3 cup boiling water
3-4 cups chopped kale
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let them soak while you start cooking.
Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and return the skillet to the stove over medium-low heat. Add the crushed garlic and stir-fry for about a minute, until fragrant. Remove the garlic and discard.
Raise the heat to medium and add the collards. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 5-7 minutes. Be careful because they may “pop”, or jump up and down in the center of the skillet. Add the raisins and their soaking water, stir to combine, and cover the skillet. Cook for about five minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the kale. Toss to mix it well with the collards and raisins, and cook just until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the bacon and pine nuts, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.