Saturday, November 12, 2011

Collard Greens "Fettucine" with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Collard Greens "Fettucine"

Fall is my absolute favorite time to be in the kitchen.  Between lingering cold fronts, the progressive shortening of days, and the multitude of occasions bringing people together, I become extraordinarily inspired.  The ingredients associated with the season also resonate with me in a very special way.  Root vegetables, warming spices, dark leafy greens, squash, mushrooms, crisp apples and pears.  And even though it's been nearly ten years since my last "real" winter in Michigan, the desire and craving for warming foods and rich, hearty flavors seems to defy both geography and climate.

Today's recipe was inspired by an episode of Top Chef All-Stars.  I rarely watch television, largely due to lack of time and not being home for most of the day.  But I admit to having certain guilty pleasures, and watching people cook and bake competitively is one of them.  So thanks to DVR, should the mood strike, I can veg out in the wee hours of the morning watching either of my two favorites, Top Chef or Iron Chef (the dubbed one).  This particular episode of Top Chef took place in the Bahamas and for the elimination challenge, the four remaining chefs not only had to catch their own conch, but they had to prep it and use it as the featured ingredient for a meal they would cook on a deserted island without electricity or appliances.

Richard Blais, thinking outside the box as usual, made "linguine" solely out of sweet potatoes with conch and spiny lobster.  While his dish was not the winner of that challenge, it left a distinct impression on me.  Long after the episode aired, the idea of grain-free, vegetable-based "noodles" continued to rattle through my head.  It wasn't until the tail-end of summer, when we began integrating sauteed collard greens into our daily menu at work, that the rattling finally stopped.

Cue lightbulb.

Collard Greens "Fettucine"
(GF, DF, V, rSF. SF)

6-8 c chiffonade of collard greens
1/8 c collard spines, chopped
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/2 c rehydrated shiitake mushrooms
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon oil for saute
1/4 c warm stock
salt and pepper to taste

Vegan Creamy Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce
(GF, DF, V, rSF. SF)

1 c pureed pumpkin (or other pureed squash)
1/3 c roasted tomatoes, seeded and chopped
5 oz coconut milk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-2 teaspoons sriracha
1/4 c warm stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

1.  If using dried shiitake mushrooms like I did, rinse and then rehydrate 2 tablespoons of mushrooms in cold, filtered water for 30-45 minutes to make 1/2 cup.  Remove mushrooms from liquid, setting aside the mushroom infused water to use as a part of the 1/4 warm stock that is called for.  If using fresh shiitakes, use closer to 3/4 cup.
2.  Thoroughly wash collard greens, removing all sand and dirt.  To make the "fettucine," take each leaf and cut out the spine, leaving two lengthwise halves.  Make a snug roll of each half and slice into 1/4" ribbons.  Continue until you have 6-8 cups.
3.  Set aside a few of the spines and finely chop them to make 1/8 cup.
4.  Using a large wok or pan, saute onions in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until pliable and just starting to caramelize.
5.  Add mushrooms and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes to bring out both the flavor and aroma.
6.  Add finely chopped collard spines and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
7.  Set aside sauteed vegetables and deglaze the pan with the warm stock.
8.  Add collard greens to pan and cover tightly.  Allow to steam for 3-5 minutes until tender and "al dente."  Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.  Be careful not to overcook the collards, as they are a cruciferous vegetable and may start to emit a sulfurous odor that is less than palatable.
8.  To prepare the sauce, combine pumpkin puree, roasted tomatoes, warm stock, and sriracha in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
9.  Once heated through and slightly thickened, reduce temperature to a low simmer and add coconut milk and nutritional yeast.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste if desired.
10.  To serve, you can add the sauce and sauteed vegetables to the collards, giving them a good stir in the saute pan before heaping the sauced "fettucine" steaming hot onto guests' plates.  Alternatively, you can present it on a composed plate, as pictured at the top.  Either way it's going to taste delicious.
11.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Even vegetables have spines

"Fettucine" is derived from the Italian "fettuce," which mean "string"

Flavor encouraging and melding


This will be a great dish for any Thanksgiving or season-inspired meal.   And aside from the prep of making the "fettucine" (which can be done in advance), this is a fairly quick dish to throw together, which can mean more time to spend with guests, or in my case, more time to cook and bake other things.  And as a disclaimer, I'm not claiming that this actually tastes like pasta - it's just reminiscent of it in shape.  Another wonderful way to enjoy collards.

From experience, the holidays have a tendency to be saturated with starches, simple carbohydrates, and lots of bready things.  And that can make it difficult not only for the gluten intolerant but also for those doing their best to hold strong to a lower carb diet.  Having a dish like this would provide an option for either group that wouldn't sacrifice for flavor, nutrition, or novelty.  And all ingredients are actually brimming with healthful goodness to help you honor your body and fortify it through the challenges of cold/flu season.  

So whether you've resolved to be "good" through the widespread waistline onslaught of the next few months or you just want more freedom to choose those moments when you're "not so good," remember that good food that's comforting doesn't need to be traditional.  It just needs to start with quality ingredients and an intention to share food and love with the people around you.

And that is a tradition you can always stand by.


  1. Yum yum yum, vegetables ribbons, noodles, chiffonades etc. I love it all and I think this dish is a hit. You've got the lovely greens and you've got the awesome pumpkin sauce that has coconut milk in it. How can you go wrong with gata??? =) I will be roasting squash tomorrow; so I will be playing around in the kitchen and see what I can use for the 'noodles.' I'll let you know what happens.

  2. I agree about all the ingredients being lovely - makes it hard to go wrong. And please do let me know about what you end up using tomorrow. This season really does bring out our creativity, doesn't it?

  3. This really looks delicious with lots of twists. I'm definitely craving for a plate of that right now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. This is definitely a must do recipe this weekend since I got my Food Safety Course.

  4. You're welcome, Haley! Enjoy making it and eating it!


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