You know how you’re supposed to try only one “weird” vegetable at a time in a dish, to coax your taste buds gently towards a more varied and interesting diet? To that I say: it takes two to tango! Some “weird” vegetables are just meant to be together; they bring out the best in each other.
Take rutabaga, for instance, whose delicate sweetness pairs perfectly with the bold, mildly bitter flavor of collard greens. I know: I used rutabaga and delicate in the same sentence. But this root’s rugged exterior is deceptive; the flesh inside cooks quite tender and light. With a touch of maple syrup and the flowery flavor of ground coriander, both vegetables simply shine. And they look so pretty together, pale orange against vibrant green! That’s another surprise rutabaga has in store: though an almost sickly white when raw, it turns this beautiful yellowish hue when exposed to heat.
Since this was my first time cooking collard greens, I took the advice in Greens, Glorious Greens and cooked them separately to make sure they have just the right texture. But I used the same deep-sided sauté pan for cooking the final dish—just wiped it dry with a paper towel—to reduce clean-up. You will also notice that I used an Indian-style cooking method at the beginning of the recipe, blooming the spices in oil before adding the vegetables. It’s something I started doing recently on a regular basis, and I have to say I’m a bit addicted to it: the deepened flavor of the spices is so distinctive.
Okay, so I will cave in and say that if two “weird” vegetables are just too much for you, you can replace the rutabaga with an orange-fleshed sweet potato (reduce the maple syrup in the recipe to compensate for the potato’s sweetness). But really, the most weird thing about rutabaga is its name. I wish they’d named it something like rainbow turnip—for the purple and ivory in its peel as well as those secret orange tints in its flesh—but maybe rainbow is too much. Good thing they don’t let me name vegetables!
Rutabaga & Collard Greens
- 1 bunch collard greens (about 6 cups chopped)
- 1 TBSP. canola oil
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 TBSP. plus 1 tsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Remove and discard the stems from the collard greens. Rinse the leaves well in cold water and cut them into ribbons about 1 inch wide.
Place the chopped greens in a large pot or deep-sided sauté pan, cover them with water, and set the pot on high heat until the water and greens come to a vigorous boil. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes. Drain and rinse the cooked greens under cold water. Set aside. (You can do this one or two days ahead and store the cooked greens in the fridge.)
In a sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the ground coriander and cumin and cook for about 30 seconds, until the spices are very fragrant.
Toss in the peeled and cubed rutabaga and the sea salt, and sauté for 5 minutes until the rutabaga has changed color from white to pale orange. Now add in the water, 1 TBSP. of maple syrup and the orange zest. Leave the heat on medium high until the water comes to a boil (this will only take a minute), then set the heat to low, cover the pan tightly and let the rutabaga cook for 15-20 minutes, until it’s knife-tender. Stir it once or twice, and add another sprinkle or two of water if necessary (you want to create a bit of sauce and not let the bottom of the pan get dry).
When the rutabaga is tender, add in the prepared collard greens, and cook until the greens are heated through. Turn off the heat. Now add in the remaining 1 tsp. of maple syrup and the chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and season accordingly.
Serve with the steamed grain of your choice. (I used brown rice.)
Nutritional Information: 4 servings. Per serving (without rice): 88 calories; 3.8 g fat; 313 mg sodium; 13.1 g carbs; 3.7 g dietary fiber; 7.7 g sugar; 2.1 g protein.
Posted Friday, April 1st, 2011