Cooked greens are absolutely my go-to side dish this time of year. With three basic ingredients, you can create endless combinations – and quickly. Choose a type of dark, leafy green, a dried fruit, and a type of nut – and you are good to go. When I set out to make this dish, it was actually going to be beet greens with cherries and hazelnuts – but a trip to an ill-stocked grocery store in the Central Coast town of Cambria forced me to call an audible on the spot. Also, I generally treat beet greens as a bonus food. Despite the fact that they are nutritious and tasty, I rarely buy beets for the greens, without having a plan for the beets themselves. On the contrary, if you are in need of beets for roasting or making a bisque, and select a few with the greens still attached, you get a bonus side dish for tomorrow’s meal. Point being, with greens such as collards, beet, the numerous varieties of kale and chard; walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans (stop naming nuts….); and dried fruits like dates, cherries, raisins or currants – the variations of this dish are many.
When I think of hazelnuts, I think of one thing – Nutella. I then think of big training weeks where Nutella sandwiches abound, or as often is the case, a spoon is substituted for the bread, and Nutella is consumed straight up. If there was an option to inject it straight away, I’m sure the depleted endurance athlete would not be opposed. But other than in Nutella crepes on weekend mornings, hazelnuts seem to rarely make appearances on the American table.
As with all nuts, hazelnuts are calorie-dense and relatively high in fat. But the vast majority of fat in hazelnuts is monounsaturated. They also contain quite a bit of fiber, and if you glance at their vitamin and mineral profiles, you’ll see rich diversity. Hazelnuts are good sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and contain good amounts of the B vitamins B1, B6, and B9. Although they contain no sodium, they do contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium; a significant amount of manganese; and other minerals such as iron, copper, and zinc. Again, do not forget that hazelnuts do contain a lot of fat, so it’s probably not prudent to go replacing your multivitamin with a few cups of hazelnuts a day, but as an addition to a fall or winter side dish, they are a great, nutritionally conscious choice.
1 bunch collard greens, chopped
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 T dried cherries, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Total time: 15 minutes
Serves about 3
Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a toaster oven or preheated oven.
Remove the center vein from the collard greens and coarsely chop. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped greens and minced garlic, season with salt and pepper, and stir. After about 4 minutes, once the greens have cooked down, add in the chopped cherries and stir to combine. Add in the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Lastly, add in the toasted and chopped hazelnuts.
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Recipe ID: 29