Collard Greens and Rhubarb Salsa

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I am always surprised at the full, green flavoured and chewy crisp tenderness  of collard greens when I bite into one raw.

We don’t cook them very often, even though that is how they are commonly handled.  Rather, and with the encouragement of the grower we purchase them from at the market, we use them as a vegetable taco shell.

We are not against bread in our house, but it is hard to get really good quality tacos unless you make them at home, and sometimes crunchy greenness is so much more satisfying than bread, especially when the filling is not traditional and garden fresh.

This year we have had unusually high humidity and warm weather.  Everything is happy.  The collards at the market were bigger than I have seen them before and I bought a bundle, along with a big handful of peppery garlic scapes.  I also selected a bunch of vibrant red Amaranth leaves.  Amaranth produces a tender and flavourful leaf similar to spinach or beat leaf.  Only it is more delicate and very gorgeous.  Amaranth is an ancient grain and grows tall.  Next year I will grow it in my own garden to serve as edible architecture.  It is very eye-catching once it shoots up and sets to seed.

At home I roasted fudgey new potatoes with smoked paprika, olive oil, and a good grinding of pepper and generous springle of grey sea salt.   I warmed the garlic scape in hot olive oil and sautéed the amaranth just long enough for it to wilt and take up the garlicky olive oil.   This was tossed with the roasted new potatoes and laid out on a collard leaf whose rough stem was removed.

To offer a freshness and sourness I topped it all off with a rhubarb and cucumber salsa.  I did not think to google rhubarb salsa and if you do, you will find plenty of concepts.  Mine is much more straightforward and pared back.  I picked the thinnest, reddest stalks of rhubarb in the garden and sliced them thinly along with the cucumbers.  All was tossed with finely chopped chives, olive oil, salt, pepper (Some finely diced chili would be excellent (though a thin red one rather than jalapeno I think).  I chose not to add lemon or lime, letting the astringent rhubarb sourness lead the way.

We ate this in the sunshine with smiles and a very good glass of red wine.

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