Collard purée with roasted sweet potatoes, ginger, smoked paprika, and lime

Collard puree with sweet potatoes, ginger and lime

Collard puree with sweet potatoes, ginger and lime

Hello, Ordinary friends! Don’t look now but we’re doing it again! Last week I introduced the idea of a sort of writer’s salon, hosted by The Ordinary, in which we’d all (whoever wanted to that is) write a story inspired by a certain photograph. I hope to make it a weekly feature, because I’m enjoying the story-writing, and I’d be curious to see what my story-writing friends come up with. So here’s week two’s picture, courtesy, once again, of Square America.

My story is after the jump, and I’d love to include yours, too!

This recipe is inspired by the Indian dish sag aloo, which is an addictive puree of spinach with soft comforting pieces of potato in it. This is collards, instead, because I love collards. And sweet potatoes, because they go nicely with ginger and lime, which were the seasonings I chose. It’s a nice dish to have with basmati rice and flatbread, or as a side for any other meal.

Here’s Children’s Story from Slick Rick. Classic!


I loved him so much that I cut his eyes out. I put them in my pocket, the one on the inside of my jacket. He would have been angry if he’d known, so I never told him. Now I could take his eyes out and look into them any time I wanted, and I could think about him looking back at me, which gave me an odd sort of inexplicable physical pain. A twinge, but I couldn’t tell you where it hurt. His eyes are dark, and deep like shadows. But with pools of slanting light in the center, shifting sunshine through the shadows of leaves. I know because I could study them all through the winter, and I learned them well in all of their moods and changes. I cut them out at the close of summer when the season ended, and I returned home to school and friends and life. Of course there were no friends, there could be no life after I had met him. He shone so bright, his colors glowed so vividly that everything else was shaded and weak. I kept his face, too, of course, and I would look through the holes that were his eyes. I saw the world as he saw the world and I felt I understood him. And I could hold his face to the sky and watch the vast blue space and the fast clouds moving, changing, in the spaces that were his eyes. I would lie back on my bed for hours, holding his face before me, sunny and dripping, and I’d watch the light change through his eyes with the hours of the day and the days of the year.
“You’re too old to be scared of the waves,” my mother said, that first day in the hot sand. “Be a man, and get yourself into the ocean. You need to be knocked over—that’s what you need.” She said, “A boy of your age, scared of the waves. You need to be knocked head-over-heels.” I wasn’t listening, but I heard her words as a prophecy—while she talked he walked out of the waves, smooth and wet, bare-chested, so young to be never smiling. Never scared. I followed him back into the water, terrified and happy, lifted off my feet and flying in the whole warm vast curve of the world. Rising and falling in the blinding bright day. And then I was set spinning, upside down, salt water in my mouth and everything smoky glass-green flowing in my eyes, confused, whirled, in a tangle. And that’s how it has been with me, ever since. Waves of joy and waves of sorrow; sometimes floating, sometimes drowning.

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
olive oil to coat

1 large bunch collards, stems removed
1 t brown sugar
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t cardamom
2 T masa harina
2 T olive oil
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T butter
juice of half a lime
1 cup chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.

Combine the sweet potatoes with enough olive oil to coat in a roasting pan or baking tray. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, till they’re soft and starting to brown. I find that if I turn the oven off but leave them in as it cools, they get a bit crispier, but keep an eye on them!

Roughly chop the collards.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the spoonful of sugar. Boil the collards for about half an hour, till they’re soft but still bright. Pour out most of the water – leave about 1/2 inch. Purée the collards in the blender. You don’t want them to be completely smooth – a little texture is nice. Return to the pot. Stir in the masa harina, smoked paprika, cardamom and coriander. Cook until they’re quite thick. Be careful! They’ll splatter.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shallots and ginger, and cook for about a minute till they start to brown. Then add the garlic and pepper flakes. Stir and fry for under a minute. Add the collards. Stir in the butter and lime juice. Stir in the tomatoes. Season well with salt and black pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are just soft.

Serve over basmati rice with flat bread.


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