Collard (a.k.a. collard greens, or collards) is a member of the Brassica family, a genus that contains an enormous number of edible plants, including broccoli, cabbage, and kale (to say nothing of the decorative landscape-plant branch of the family tree). They are prolific in the South, but even here in the Northeast, there was a report of a grower on Cape Cod who was harvesting collards - unprotected from weather - until February one year. Collards are high in vitamin C and soluble fiber, and, man, are they tasty.
Many times, that soluble fiber gets washed down with a little smoked meat, and if you’d like to go that route here, feel free to add cooked bacon or pancetta or sausage during the filling-mixing process. Likewise, if you’d prefer to make your own piecrust rather than use purchased puff pastry, that’s all good, too. And, if kale or chard is your Brassica of choice, go right ahead and substitute those greens for the collards.
Collard Greens Pie:
Serves 8 to 10
1 sheet puff pastry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 medium onion
2 pounds collard greens, well washed, woody stems removed, and coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling over the finished pie
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch tart pan or pie dish with unsalted butter.
Roll out the puff pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch approximation of a circle (the corners of the once-rectangular sheet are a bit difficult to round, after all). Transfer to the greased tart pan, tucking the dough into the pan and curling the dough edges back over themselves to form a crust. If there are areas that could use a little more crust, simply trim any excess dough (this can usually be found at the corners that we were unable to round out), and patch the dough where desired using a bit of warm water to adhere it to itself. Pierce the bottom surface of the crust all over with a fork. Set the crust masterpiece aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and crushed red pepper, and sauté until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the collards and sauté until they are wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, Pecorino Romano, and eggs, and whisk to blend. Add the cheese mixture to the collards and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the greens into the pastry shell, pushing down on the greens to compact them. Have I mentioned that this is a dense pie? Yes. Well, those greens will come right up to the edge of your crust, or pretty darned close to the edge of your crust.
Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown and you can see that the cheese and eggs in the greens are lightly browned on the top of the pie, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes before digging in. Sprinkle the remaining Pecorino Romano over the greens, and then cut away.
Copyright 2010 Amy McCoy/Poor Girl Gourmet. All Rights Reserved.
Photo credit: Copyright Amy McCoy. May not be reproduced without permission.