Spicy Coconut-Braised Collards with Quinoa
Can you guess where these flowers came from?
If you know anything about me, my garden would be filled with vegetables. Only things I could eat.
Hint: I can eat these flowers. And the plant.
Hint 2: I never knew this plant even had flowers.
Hint 3: I’ve already told you I’ve grown this before…
Yes, the flowers are from my kale!
Those are my sad-looking kale plants that Rob and I transplanted this weekend (they perked up by this morning, though). They no longer had a home, so instead of being a legacy gift, we transplanted them to our new home. The funny thing was that when we moved two weeks ago, the plants were maybe 2 feet tall, and now look at them! Huge! With flowers!
I was actually kind of worried because once most plants flower, they are finito. That terrible bolting stage.
Not so with kale. It is a super plant, for sure. Apparently, the leaves are still just as tender and tasty (albeit maybe smaller), and the flowers are edible, too. You can use the unopened flowering portion just like sprouting broccoli. Turns out that kale is a plant that lives 2 years and in its second year, it produces these beautiful flowers.
Now who said kale wasn’t pretty enough to be in a garden?
As you can see the leaves look a little sad, so I am leaving them on the plant until it has revived slightly.
Instead, I will share a recipe for spicy coconut braised greens. You can use kale, too, or collards, like I did.
Whenever I post a recipe for raw collard wraps, I invariably receive a comment from a perplexed reader wondering whether raw collard greens are too tough to eat. Personally, I think collard leaves are one of my favourite greens for raw wraps since they are more sturdy than kale, Swiss chard or lettuce, and I do not find them to be too chewy. Firm and sturdy, yes, but that is why they are the base of the wrap.
However, I know not everyone enjoys greens as much as me (like Rob), and may be more likely to add collard greens to stir fries or soups instead. When I cooked my chickpea-collard roulade, though, I was aghast at how creamy collard greens could become.
Thus, my curiosity was piqued when I saw Cara’s recipe for Spicy Coconut Braised Kale, where the greens are simmered in coconut milk for half an hour. While I have seen greens simmered in coconut before, I was intrigued when Cara used the coconut milk from refrigerated cartons, instead of the canned coconut milk.
Not really a fan of making veggie sides, I employed my latest trick of tossing saucy veggies with quinoa for a complete meal.
After the long braise in a warmly spiced coconut broth, the collards become nice and tender. I liked that it was a rather light dish with a nice coconut flavour, courtesy of the coconut milk beverage. There was so much braising liquid left over, I almost wished I had used another bunch of collards. In any case, the quinoa was a perfect vehicle to sop up all of the juice. Next time, I may add in some squash and chickpeas, or decrease the amount of coconut milk.
Spicy Coconut-Braised Collards with Quinoa
Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
1.75 cups water or vegetable broth
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or your choice of oil)
1.5 cups red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes (add more if you want this more spicy)
2 cups coconut milk beverage (from the tetrapack, not a can)
1-2 bunch of collards, stemmed and chopped (I used 1 big bunch of collards, but I could have used more)
1. Bring water or vegetable broth to a boil over high heat in a medium-sized pot. Once boiling, add quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Keep covered for an additional 5 minutes to steam. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Once hot, add the onion and saute until softened, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chile flakes. Stir for one more minute, making sure nothing burns.
3. Add 1 cup of the coconut milk and increase the heat to high. Once boiling, add the collard greens in batches, allowing it to wilt down slightly. Once all the collards have been added, add the remainder of the coconut milk, cover and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 25 minutes, until the greens are very tender.
4. To serve, plate the quinoa and scoop collards and the sauce overtop. Stir and dig in!