Roasted squash, collard greens, and a big bowl of overcooked rice: the ultimate winter meal.
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours
for the congee:
¼ cup unsweetened coconut chips
2 medium sweet potatoes, rinsed
1 small honeynut squash (a local, sweeter variety of butternut)
1 cup Carolina Gold rice grits, washed once (substitute with short-grain rice)
8-10 cups vegetable stock (substitute with water)
kosher salt, to taste
soy sauce, to taste
rice wine vinegar, to taste
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 bunch collard greens, stems and leaves separated and roughly chopped
freshly ground white pepper, to taste
½ cup roughly chopped herbs, such as a mixture of mint, parsley, and tarragon
7 minute soft boiled egg, peeled, doused with soy sauce and halved
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Spread the coconut chips into an even layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer chips to a plate and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, roast the sweet potatoes and squash on the parchment-lined baking sheet until easily pierce-able with a knife, about 1 to 1½ hours. After cooling for a few minutes, they will collapse and feel pudgy to the touch. Tear them into medium-sized pieces, discarding stems and seeds, and set aside.
3. Combine the rice and vegetable stock in a medium saucepan. Season with a pinch of salt and cook at a low simmer until creamy but still a bit loose, about 1 to 1½ hours. If it thickens too much, add more stock or water. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, soy sauce, and a dash of vinegar.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until the edges are golden, about 2 minutes. Add chard stems and a pinch of salt and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, lower the heat, cover, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.
5. To serve, ladle the congee into bowls and dust with white pepper. Garnish with a few pieces of roasted vegetables and a spoonful of braised chard. Sprinkle with herbs and top with coconut flakes. The addition of a soft-boiled egg, pickles, and chili oil will bring the congee to the next level!
Author's note: The roasted vegetables, congee, and braised collards keep well in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days. Cover and store each separately. To reheat the congee, add a little water to loosen and simmer until hot.