My dream has always been to have my very own garden in the backyard. I can just imagine myself spending hours outside with my girls, digging, planting and harvesting basketfuls of vegetables that travel only as far as my backyard before they are transformed into dinner. Truly farm-to-table. In my imagination I see our girls learning hard work, patience and determination with each seed they sow. The value of a job well done beams from their faces as they haul in the day’s bounty. We even have enough to share with our friends and neighbors, to love on them and to share community.
Of course, I know nothing about gardening. Every plant I’ve ever owned has keeled over and died on me within weeks, withering to a crispy stub or drying out so that a whisper of wind blows it clean of life. But I’m willing to learn! I brought home a fair share of gardening books from the local Goodwill, which are now gathering dust on the bookshelf. My theory was that the more prepared I was for a garden, the chances of starting one would increase. And, well…the clock is still ticking and my garden is still just a dream.
I blame it on our yard. It’s not made for a garden. The backyard, while flat and already fenced in, is horribly shaded by the trees. We get so much shade during the day that I have to use the lights in the kitchen just to cook lunch. And sadly, the few attempts I’ve made to plant something never took off, only becoming a soggy mess of a dead plant.
But I’m not giving up yet. I am determined to have a flourishing garden someday. Soon.
In the meantime, I vow to support my local farmer by being as adventurous as I can with what I eat. I’m not one to shy away from unusual foods so this should be easy, right? Not so. For instance, it took me years to muster up the courage to buy a big, watermelon-sized bunch of collards for this dish. And, to be honest, they’re not my husband’s favorite so I honestly didn’t think much of them either. However, after making this recipe for collards with shallots and goat cheese, I can honestly say that I’ve changed my mind.
If you’ve never had collards before, I’m not talking about the soggy, wilted greens you see drowning in a pool of bacon grease in the buffet line at the nearest southern restaurant. I’m talking about crispy, crunchy, kale-like greens, that like a light shower of butter and a hint of lemon, nothing more. But if you want to further elevate this common, greasy southern restaurant green, might I suggest a little shallot, some garlic and goat cheese?
After eating this dish, I’ll definitely add collards to my garden plan. Just don’t hold your breath on when I break ground.
***The original recipe is stated below but I will say because I keep reading about how olive oil goes rancid when it’s cooked at high temperatures, I used ghee/clarified butter instead since it’s stable at higher temperatures. And I totally forgot to cut off the stems. Some people think they’re too hard or crunchy, but I didn’t mind at all.
- 1 large bunch collard greens, stems removed (I forgot but they do give a nice crunchy texture)
- 2-3 tsp olive oil (or ghee/clarified butter)
- 3 Tbs minced shallot
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 – 2 ounces goat cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place collard leaves in a stack and make 1/2-inch thick slices in the shorter direction to create ribbons
- Place a medium pot over medium/medium-low heat with the ghee/butter. Once hot, add the shallot and cook for about 3-4 mins, stirring frequently until just starting to brown. Stir in the garlic for about 1 minute and then add in the collard greens and stir.
- Reduce heat to low and over with a lid for about 5 mins. Stir, then cover and cook for another 3-6 mins until cooked to your liking. Stir in the lemon juice. Crumble goat cheese over top and gently stir until the cheese starts to melt and distribute evenly.
- Stir in a few pinches of salt and pepper to your liking.