*Eye-roll* You're a vegetarian from San Francisco and you think you can trick me into eating 2 pounds of leaves by calling it a cobbler? Ha!
...Guilty as charged. But I know you'll enjoy this!
My parents were each vegetarians too, for fleeting moments in their lives. Long before I stopped eating meat, I remember my mom saying that she missed the act of chewing during her meatless year. I picture her crunching through a raw salad, yearning to chew a rare steak. It's a funny image that's always stuck with me.
Vegetarian eating often musters visions of dutiful grains, as good for you and as interesting as dental visits and car insurance; mushy lentils, and their accompanying intestinal distress; and earnest salads ("rabbit food"). Trust me, I am as enthralled by whole grains as any foodie San Franciscan of 2017 who reads the likes of Heidi Swanson, Megan Gordon, and Sara Forte on the regular, but not even I could handle a diet of them alone!
To me, the dishes that transcend these stereotypes and convert the it's-not-a-meal-without-meat-camp now and then are warm, filling, savory, and comforting. They are the dishes that evoke Grandma's brisket, your neighbor's chicken pot pie, Mom's Sunday pot roast, even though they don't have meat. Baked pasta dishes fit that bill (butternut squash lasagna, which I'll have to document here soon!), as do hearty or smoky soups (such as last month's Hoppin' John), and anything wrapped in or topped with a buttery dough (galettes, savory pies, and so on).
This Three-Green Cobbler is a slam-dunk by this score. I discovered it while combing the archives of The Yellow House after an impromptu purchase of collard greens earlier this winter. I nixed the sausage, diversified the greens, and adjusted the recipe in myriad tiny ways to create something warming, homey, rib-sticking, and vegetable-forward.
The dish builds layers of flavor from onions and garlic sautéed in butter, bundles of fresh greens, your best broth, and buttermilk biscuits. I am confident that even my most strident carnivore relatives might come for seconds! While it's certainly more time-consuming than one could manage on a weeknight, it would do great as a Sunday dinner or as part of your Thanksgiving spread.
Adapted from The Yellow House, via Food & Wine.
Serves 3-4 as a main course, 5-6 as a side dish.
For the biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces.
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the cobbler:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 cups good-tasting vegetable broth, preferably homemade
8 oz collard greens, ribs removed and discarded, cut roughly into thick ribbons (~5 cups of ribboned leaves)
8 oz curly kale, ribs removed and discarded, torn into thick ribbons (~10 cups of ribboned leaves)
14 oz rainbow chard, ribs removed and discarded, cut roughly into thick ribbons (~8 cups of ribboned leaves)
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 1/4 cup 1% milk and 1/4 cup half-and-half, since that's what I had on hand)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch
Make the biscuits: Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut or rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the lumps of butter are no larger than tiny peas. Stir in the buttermilk until just combined. The dough will be fairly wet. Using your hands, scoop up the batter to form 10 free-form biscuits, and place them on a baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the cobbler.
Make the cobbler: Melt the 3 tbsp butter in an enameled Dutch oven (or similar deep, ovenproof dish) over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, until fragrant. By now, you'll have a lot of lovely brown bits at the bottom of your pan. Pour a large splash of broth to deglaze the bottom and scrape up all those brown bits. Pour in the rest of the broth, and raise the heat to a boil.
Once the broth is boiling, add the collard greens and a few pinches of salt, stirring to wilt the collards. Lower the heat to a simmer, and let the collards cook for 10 minutes. Add the kale in batches, each with a few pinches of salt, stirring to wilt, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Do the same with the chard: add it in batches, salting as you go, and simmer it all together for 10 more minutes.
While your greens are simmering, preheat the oven to 375. Whisk the whole milk (or in my case, the 1% milk and half-and-half) with the water, and then whisk in the cornstarch until it's dissolved. When the greens have finished their simmer, add the milk-cornstarch slurry to the pot and stir to combine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken. Taste for salt and pepper and season to taste. I find that, at this point, the mixture can use quite a few large grinds of black pepper and another pinch or so of salt.
Remove the pot from the heat. Take your biscuits out of the fridge and arrange them on top of the cobbler. Slide it all into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the greens are bubbling and the biscuits have a golden crispy lid. Let it rest for 10-20 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy. (The leftovers reheat beautifully too!)