Deborah Schneider's Rajas con Crema
Regina Schrambling's Chicken and Orzo with Lemon and Olives

Regina Schrambling's Collard Squares


I don't know if it's the midweek blues or the threat of rain or just a cyclical thing that happens every now and again, but I've come down with a small case of blogger's block and while I know that there is nothing so uninteresting as listening to someone complain about the fact that they have nothing to write about, I figure we're all friends here and you won't really hold it against me. Will you?

Because, yeah, unless you want to hear me waffle about whether or not I'm contributing as much to my Roth IRA as I am to my winter shoe collection, or moan about how much it is irritating me that we seem to have some kind of mold situation in our bathroom (why, oh, why do domestic irritants have to exist?), or complain that I have been trying for a month to get a pedicure but cannot, for the life of me, seem to find the time to let someone else paint my toenails while I read a trashy magazine and just. let. go. for one blessed hour, well, then I'm not sure I've got much to offer today.

So before I bore us all to tears, I'll just quickly tell you about the one thing of interest I have to contribute today: the humble collard square. This agreeably chunky little thing really is worth mentioning, even amidst all the bellyaching, because it's just so unassuming and yet so delicious, too. There's not much to the preparation, but what you end up with is sort of a lightened, modern, crustless quiche, heavy on the vegetables and big on taste. I used a little less cheese than Regina calls for, and lessened the oven time a bit for a somewhat more tender and moist result. We ate our collard squares with a few roasted tomatoes alongside, which really was an inspired match (something about greens with tomatoes just makes my heart sing), and found it difficult to leave any leftovers.

The original recipe (for 12!) can be found here, the one below is amended for a smaller crowd. And with that I'm off to contemplate my navel. (To think that a day ago I was actually considering NaBloPoMo again. Ha!)

Collard Squares
Serves 3-4

1 large bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoons butter plus extra for the baking dish
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 pound shiitakes, stems removed, caps finely diced
1/2 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
4 large eggs
2 ounces Comté or Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1. Remove the tough stems from the greens and wash the leaves well in several changes of cold water. Place them in a large pot and add the hot pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add water to cover by several inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the greens are very tender, about 1 hour. Drain well and cool slightly, then squeeze dry and finely chop.

2. While the collards are cooking, melt the butter in a small or medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle lightly with one-fourth teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the shiitakes and the tamari and sauté until they are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-9-inch baking dish.

4. Combine the collards and shiitakes in a bowl. Add the eggs, cheese and bread crumbs and mix well. Spread into the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes. Cut into squares to serve hot or at room temperature.