Monday, March 21, 2011

Garlic on the Side

“What are collard greens?” I wondered as I looked through a list of recipes from Brazil. That and “Ooh, garlic!” Continuing in the tradition set down by okra, I decided to make couve a mineira (garlicky collard greens), a traditional Brazilian side dish, because I wasn't sure I'd ever had collard greens, and used to wonder about them also when I worked the freezer at Harding's.

It turns out that collard greens are in the cabbage family, one of "The 10 Things You Need to Eat". Collards have a high vitamin C content as well as a reputation for fighting cancer. The bag of frozen collard greens that I bought from Meijer (courtesy of the same company that made the okra) looked a lot like spinach, but the taste was more similar to Brussels sprouts, though obviously the texture was not even close to the sprouts.

Since the collards were frozen, I did follow the recipes first step of boiling them in water, but I probably didn't have to. Next time I may just dump the whole frozen mass into the frying pan and let it thaw there. I was happy to be able to use the rest of my onion (the first half was used for the gumbo). Only half what the recipes calls for, and it was still a lot of onion! Also, it was delicious. I like onions. On that note, I wonder if this recipe would benefit from sauteed mushrooms...

As usual, I did not use fresh garlic. I guess I'm just a wimp like that. I did have to douse the onions and collards in garlic powder three times before I could even detect there was any garlic in there, but considering 1/8 of a teaspoon is supposed to be equivalent to one clove, that probably says more about my tolerance for garlic than the potency of the powder. (Oops! Are my Sicilian roots showing?)

I have to say, butter and olive oil are a winning combination! I will remember this when I want to saute vegetables in the future, like peas, endives, and mushrooms, a delightful veggie side dish I tried last year after reading about it in a book. The butter can only make this combination more amazing.

Since I didn't have time to make feijoada, my poor excuse for a main dish was elbow macaroni with Parmesan cheese. That's really more of a side dish, but my choices were limited, and the two dishes together were just lovely. Rest assured I went back for seconds! The garlicky collard greens would probably go well with the shrimp and okra gumbo I made previously, and I admit that had originally been my intention, but things just didn't work out that way. Ah well!

I've made a main dish and a side dish. I suppose now I need to make a Brazilian dessert, huh? No problem! Dessert is the best part of the meal.

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