Collards, roasted mushroom and pecan pie with a spicy smoky crust

Collard pecan pie

Collard pecan pie

Malcolm came home from school yesterday and lay on the couch and wept. I asked him if something upsetting had happened, and he said, no, he was just tired, and he really wanted some pineapple. We’d bought a pineapple on Monday, and I kept telling him it wasn’t ripe, because, honestly, I can never tell! The last time we bought one I prudently waited until it was moldy and disintegrating, just to be sure. So I gave him a dish of pineapple, and I got myself a glass of wine, and he got a blanket, and we cuddled on the couch and watched a dumb show about Merlin. And then snow began to fall, thick and fast – the prettiest snow I’ve ever seen. It sparkled! It looked like crystals falling from the sky and forming an improbably light, even blanket on the ground. And when David came home we went out to dinner. We almost never go out to dinner, just the four of us, maybe twice a year. It’s so nice when we do! I felt so happy being with my family, in our little booth, eating delicious and unexpected food. We always bring a blank book when we go out – the same book each time, and we all take turns drawing in it. We have quite a collection of crazy pictures, and each small sketch transports us back to the good meal we had and the good talks we had. Last night we talked about the things that might have been worrying Malcolm. We talked about a game his whole class plays, and he said that by the end everybody is mad at each other because they’re competing, and that doesn’t feel good. He leaned up against me. Both boys ate with good appetites, with glee, and Malcolm said, “I love food!” And, of course, I love that he loves food. We talked about all the places we’ll travel, when we’ve got the time and money. We talked about taking a plane somewhere with no plans, and just making it up as we go along. Finding a place to stay, finding a lovely restaurant, with little booths, where we can eat strange and wonderful food, and draw in our book, and talk. And then we drove home through a glittering white world to our old warm house. A good night!
Isaac's beautiful landscape from our restaurant book

Isaac’s beautiful landscape from our restaurant book

I love collard greens. I love their substantial texture, and their mildly assertive taste. I like to pair them with smoky crispy things. I thought of the crust in this as being almost like bacon – crunchy and smoky with smoked paprika. The pecans added a nice crunch, and the roasted mushrooms brought their lovely savory, meaty flavor.

Here’s Fox in the Snow by Belle and Sebastian.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 t smoked paprika
1 t salt
1/2 t cayenne
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen

In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and spices. Grate in the butter and mix with a fork till you have a coarse crumbly texture. Stir in ice water, about half a cup. Knead gently for about a minute till you have a soft cohesive dough. Wrap in foil and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.


Roasted mushrooms, prepared this way.

One large bunch of collards
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
2 t thyme
1 t rosemary, chopped
pinch allspice
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted or roasted
1 – 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten

Soak and wash collards. Bring a large pot of water to boil with a shake of salt in it. Cut the thick stem from the collards, chop them roughly and drop them in the water. Boil them for about twenty minutes until quite soft. Drain. You should have about two cups, cooked. When it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze some of the water out, and chop into pieces about 1 inch square.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, herbs, and red pepper flakes and stir and fry for under a minute. Then add the collards. Cook for a few minutes until the collards are well coated and the pan is quite dry. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl combine the collards, mushrooms, pecans and cheese. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and then stir in all but 1 tablespoonful of the egg.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Butter and flour a cake pan. Roll out 3/4 of the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. Press this into the cake pan, it should come up the sides and hang over slightly.

Spread the filling into the dough-lined cake pan. Roll out the remaining lump of dough to be 1/4 inch thick. Place this over the pie. Roll the edges together and press with a fork to seal. Poke the top with a fork in a few places, and brush the surface with the remaining beaten egg.

Bake for about 30 – 35, till the top is browned and crispy. Let cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a plate.


2 thoughts on “Collards, roasted mushroom and pecan pie with a spicy smoky crust

  1. Thank you, steenbeck, for another beautiful and heartwarming story about your family – Isaac’s drawing is amazing! Unfortunately I can’t eat pies at the moment – NO PIES! – but I will partake vicariously.

  2. Pingback: Cherry chocolate tart with amaretti-meringue topping | Out of the Ordinary

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