I planted a pretty generous patch of collard greens at the start of the growing season, with vivid plans of collard wraps, vibrant green smoothies, and of course, experiments. Many months, a few wraps, and one very unfortunate smoothie later, the gorgeous patch of collards, still stood, tall and proud, and almost untouched. At one point a big meaty spider made a home in one of the leaves and I was so happy to see at least one beautiful leaf being appreciated.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with collards, I just feel like they’re hanging out somewhere in between kale and cabbage, yet kind of inferior to both. It feels wrong to say this but I wasn’t even inspired to experiment with them when there were so many other garden things competing for my attention. Oh and have you ever googled “collard greens”? The image search yields some of the worst looking food I’ve ever seen.
As we approach the inevitable hard frost, the pressure is on. Wasting super nutritious home-grown produce is not an option, even if it means putting collards in virtually all of my random solo lunch melanges. Good news is that some of these lunches, like these sweet shiitake and peanut noodles (with collard greens, of course), actually turned out pretty darn delicious. I might even consider growing another collard plant (just one) next year.
- 1/4 cup of tamari or soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. of unrefined + roasted peanut oil (see note) - I love this one
- 1 Tbsp. of rice wine vinegar
- 2 - 3 Tbsp. of coconut oil (or your favourite cooking oil - see note)
- 1 lb of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- a large knob of ginger, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb of collard greens, stems removed, and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped peanuts + more for garnish
- 12oz of dry brown rice spaghetti noodles (see note) - I used a pack of these ones, cooked and drained.
- A few scallions, finely chopped, for garnish.
- Prep note: I suggest cooking the noodles as you're prepping the shiitake mix. It comes together pretty quickly and it's best to combine the hot shiitake mix with freshly cooked noodles right away, so estimate the timing appropriately depending on your pace and the cooking time for your type/brand of noodles.
- Measure out the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, and peanut oil. Whisk gently to combine and set aside.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. of the coconut oil in a large skillet.
- Cook the shiitakes in batches, to maximize the amount of surface area that is touching the skillet, adding more oil in between if necessary. Start with about 3 - 4 minutes for each batch, toss, cook another minute or two, and switch it up. Once all the shiitakes have a some browning (flavaaaahhh!), remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Warm another few teaspoons of oil and sautee the garlic and ginger until fragrant (about a minute).
- Add the shiitakes back to the pot and stir fry for another few minutes.
- Add the soy sauce mix to the pot, toss with the shiitakes, and immediately turn heat to low and cover.
- Let the mushrooms simmer in the sauce for a minute or two to absorb some of the seasoning. You don't want them to absorb all of it, just enough to add flavour to the mushrooms and leave some behind for flavouring the noodles.
- Add in the collard greens, toss, and cover again for about 15 - 20 seconds just to wilt them.
- Finally combine everything with the pasta + 1/4 cup of the peanuts and toss.
- Taste a few noodles and season with more tamari, if necessary. Add more peanut oil if the noodles seem dry.
- Serve right away, topped with scallions and more peanuts.
I like the flavour of coconut oil in this dish, but if you're sensitive the coconut flavour taking over, you can substitute your favourite cooking oil. I did bacon fat once ;) So good!
The point of the peanut oil is to add flavour. Lightly roasted and unrefined peanut oil is NOT THE SAME as peanut cooking oil. It should have a nice peanut-y flavour. You can substitute sesame oil. I really love Le Tourangelle oils (both peanut and sesame)
Any kind of noodles should work. I've tried brown rice spaghetti and regular wheat spaghetti, but I assume that chow mein or soba noodles would work just as well.