Monday, March 15, 2010

CSA Collard Greens - Gomen Kitfo

I can no longer keep track of which week is which from my CSA shares. Since collard greens make a frequent appearance, this is a recipe that can hopefully come in handy. Gomen Kitfo (or Yegomen Kitfo) is an Ethiopian dish which, frankly, one of our good friends makes much better than I do, but that didn't stop me from trying it anyway. What I find so intriguing about Ethiopian food is that it is generally highly spiced, but without being "spicy" (i.e. hot), using a palette of spices that we don't encounter often in Western cuisines, at least not in savory dishes. This dish is a good example: it features cooked collard greens mixed with cottage cheese flavored with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, clove, garlic and onion.

As usual, I looked at a few different recipes and then sort of mushed them together. Here's a rough ingredient list:

  • 12 oz. cottage cheese
  • 2 lbs. collard greens ( I suspect my pile was shy of 2 lbs)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped chile pepper (I used jalapeño)
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • ground clove, ground cinnamon (to taste)
First, make some ghee. Ghee is just clarified butter, which is something that always used to sort of intimidate me, until I figured out it's not exactly culinary rocket science. Here's how I make clarified butter: put some butter in a pan. Turn on low heat. The butter will melt. Some solids will drop to the bottom, some stuff may float to the top, everything else will be transparent and golden. That's what you want. Skim the stuff off the top, leave the stuff on the bottom. Some recipes I saw called for a flavored ghee ("niter kebbeh"), which sounded like a good idea, so I threw a bit of garlic, onion and ginger in there (just some generous pinches of each) along with a lightly crushed cardamom pod and a couple cloves. Rather than straining through cheesecloth or anything fancy like that, I just skimmed what I needed for the dish straight out of the pan.

Next, the cottage cheese. Mix the 12-oz of cottage cheese (a small container) with the ground cardamom, some ground cinnamon and clove to taste (don't need too much, probably not even 1/4 tsp), salt and pepper to taste, and stick a couple halved cloves of garlic in there. And a spoonful or two of the flavored ghee. Let it sit and mingle while you prepare the rest of the dish, at least 15 minutes. Take out the garlic before you serve it.

Finally, the greens. Wash the collard greens and chop them to a size you'd like to eat (collards don't shrink nearly as much as many other greens when they cook). Add them (leave a bit of the water from washing them to help them steam), along with the onion, a chopped clove of garlic, the ginger, and the chile pepper, to a hot pan, along with a couple spoonfuls of ghee. Cover and cook over medium high heat until the greens are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Check and stir every few minutes or so to make sure nothing is sticking or burning; if so, turn the heat down (duh).

Most recipes I saw said to serve the greens over the cheese, I guess like so:

Though once you mix it around a bit, it'll look like this:

Is it the most appetizing looking thing you've ever seen? Probably not. But the flavors are intriguing, with the exotic spice notes of cardamom, ginger, clove and cinnamon paired with more customary notes of garlic and onion. And the cottage cheese gives a heartiness and creaminess that makes it a very nice side dish, possibly even a modest vegetarian meal (perhaps more substantial over some naan bread, which you can pretend is Ethiopian injera), or even a nice breakfast with a fried egg thrown on top.


  1. That stuff probably could be on Short Order's list of things that lead to bad farts...

  2. I like your method: ecclectic and novative. I once remember people complaining about ecclectic food being confusing. Not at all, if the cook knows where he is heading. I love exotism in food since it adds zync!