Friday, May 2, 2014

Orzotto with Braised Collards

One side effect of becoming obsessed with vegetables is that every now and then—surely no more than five times a week—I forget to consider the rest of the meal. For example, sometimes I start thinking about collard greens, and then I can't think of anything else. Or if I do manage to consider other food groups, they pale in comparison. "Collard greens," I say to myself. "And lentils?" asks a small, distant, entirely irrelevant voice in my head. "COLLARD GREENS," I repeat, out loud, more firmly this time. "Um, well, actually," says the person standing next to me at the co-op, where I stand gazing longingly at the leafy vegetable section, "I was just hoping to squeeze past you to get some carrots."

The point being, I buy the collard greens, I speed home to cook the collard greens, and somewhere halfway through slicing them, it occurs to me that they may not actually make up an entire dinner all by themselves.

Fortunately, I am an experienced cupboard forager. Which in this case turned up orzo and butter beans. The result? Rich, satisfying, collard greeny pasta perfection.

Olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced fairly thinly
2 strips Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, sliced into strips
3 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 bunch collard greens, halved lengthwise and sliced into one-inch strips*
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 loose tbsp finely chopped oregano
1/3 cup chicken broth + 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 rounded cups whole wheat orzo pasta
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained**
Parmesan (optional)

Sauté onions over medium-high heat in a wide pan with a little olive oil for a minute or so, until they begin to cook down a little. Push to one side and add the bacon to the other. Cook until the bacon begins to brown a little, turning the onions over once or twice in the meantime. Stir to combine, and continue cooking until until the onions are golden. Add the garlic, turn heat to medium, and saute for one minute more. Add the greens and salt and cook, stirring, for two more minutes, then add the oregano and 1/3 cup broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if it starts to dry out.

About 15 minutes before the collards are done, start the 1 1/4 cups of broth heating in a small pot. Bring to a boil.

When there are about 10 minutes left, add the butter beans to the collard greens and stir to combine. Replace the cover. Add the orzo to the broth, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 9 minutes or according to package directions, stirring once in the middle. Uncover, stir, and simmer off any excess broth. Fold the pasta into the collard greens.

Add a little grated Parmesan if desired, top with black pepper, and serve warm (too hot and you'll lose some of the flavor).

Serves 3.

*If you have a particularly small bunch of collard greens, you can add about 1/2 cup of frozen kale or spinach when you add the butter beans if you want a little more green.
**World Market has Italian butter beans that are much more giant, fat, and buttery than the normal butter beans you find in the supermarket. They are particularly amazing in pastas and pasta salads. They are also not remotely local or BPA-free, so I'm not recommending them, I'm just objectively describing their tendency to make my tastebuds swoon with happiness.


  1. What a gorgeous recipe, Alison. I also love any leafy, hearty green!

  2. Thanks, Shanna! Glad to know I'm not the only one obsessing over them. :)