Today I am revisiting a recipe I made several months ago, Spicy Potato and Kale Soup. I really loved the soup and encouraged everyone to give kale a try. Kale was still relatively new to me then and honestly I've only eaten it two or three times in my whole life.
When I started receiving collards in the box, I was having a really hard time finding a recipe that didn't use them with a ham hock. Collards are a very Southern vegetable. And I became really curious about where they came from, because I had this vision of Indians walking around in the woods and finding this ultra lush leafy bush and somehow thinking "Hey... why don't we eat this with cornbread?". That's assuming the Indians were just really tan red necks. So after some mild research, apparently no one knows where the heck collards came from, but we do know that Jesus probably ate them. However, you ask any American what are Southern foods and collards is the first thing that comes to mind.
For me, when someone says soul food I immediately imagine a big pot of collards with hunks of bacon and onions floating in the water. And sadly, the food world likes to lump collards into that category. I found several recipes using collards with black eyed peas or grits (and always with bacon), but I wanted something a bit different.
So I decided that I could just substitute collards for recipes using kale. I tasted collards and they had no real distinct flavor... other than leafy. So why not? How much different could it be. Plus, for whatever reason kale has become one of those vegetables that all the chefs are ranting about. The recipes for kale seemed to be a little more universally accepted in all cuisines, instead of just Dixie Cooking. So I made Indian Spiced Collards and Chickpeas and then I remade the Spicy Potato Soup using collards, and it turned out great! In fact, it was pretty damn good.
So my point is... you can look at traditional Southern vegetables, take them outside of the box (haha... get it?), and make some really exciting dishes. It probably might be cheaper if you are a grocery store shopper as well. Kale has a certain popularity right now that collards don't. (If you know the pricing, it would be cool to share in the comments section).
But don't think I am not gonna make that grits and greens casserole to go with my ham steak! Yummy yummy!
What about you? Have you tried using a vegetable in a way that isn't the norm? Please share your cooking trials with me, I would love to hear them. Also, I like to know that people are actually reading the blog.