A continuing series on weekly meals that use sustainable, organic, local and ethical food during the challenging winter months. For more information, go here to the DDC section of Not Dabbling in Normal’s website: Dark Days Challenge.
In which I combine winter brassicas in a creamy custard for a satisfying all-local vegetarian meal accompanied by the ribbons of carrots and the season’s first baby collard greens…
Collards custard is one of standard go-to meals when I have an abundance of greens from our CSA in summer and fall. A trip to the farmers’ market in late February yielded a bunch of baby collards that had shot out of an old root at the first signs of spring. Collards thrive in cold weather and since our winter has been so mild it’s no wonder that hardy greens are available. I have kale and chard in my own garden, though they’re pathetically small.
With a resolve to clean out the vegetable bin of my fridge, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was hanging on to a small lump of local cauliflower. The florets were browning but after I trimmed the head, I had a lot of meaty stalks and stem. I simmered it with a little chopped onion in local organic milk and cream (I could have used whole milk but didn’t have any) and added chopped collards that had been cooked in a tiny bit of ghee. After cooling the mixture, I added beaten eggs and a little local cheese, and cooked the custards in the oven in a water bath.
Cauliflower and Collards Custard
½ c milk
¼ c cream
2 c chopped cauliflower
¼ c chopped onion
1 tsp ghee
½ c collard stems
1 c collard leaves, cut into ribbons
½ c grated cheese
1 tsp salt
Bring the milk, cream, cauliflower and onion to a simmer in a medium saucepan and cook, covered, until the cauliflower is very tender. Puree and set aside to cool.
Melt the ghee in small pan and add the collard stems. Cover and cook slowly until crisp tender. Add the leaves and continue to cook until the leaves are tender. Set aside to cool.
When ready to assemble and bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Boil water for the water bath. Lightly grease a shallow baking dish or individual molds (6 half-cup molds).
Lightly beat the eggs. Add the cheese, salt and the puree and greens. Pour the mixture into baking dish or molds and set them in baking pan filled with hot water half of the depth of the baking dish or molds. Bake for about 30-40 minutes (depending on the size of the dish) until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the water bath and set aside to cool for a few minutes before unmolding.