Happy weekend everybody! The weather people are predicting rain in San Francisco over the weekend : ( hopefully it's only a light drizzle and won't damper my sight-seeing plans with my dear friend Michael! I love having friends visit, it allows me to be a tourist in my own city and forces me to not be a hermit painting radishes all day.
I wanted to share with you all one of the best afternoons I've had in a really long time. Like I said, I've been hiding out too much at my apartment on the weekends working on watercolors and recipes for the blog. So last weekend it was really great to get out in the sun and be surrounded by vegetables IRL and pretty chickens! I was in heaven. I couldn't handle it. I organized a volunteering event at City Slicker Farms for my firm. It is an amazing urban farm located in West Oakland. We cut down a huge patch of Fava plants and cut them into the ground for new planting, cut grass to feed the chickens, planted baby spinach and tree collards, rebuilt and fortified a trellis for sweet peas (perfect job for Reuby!), and transported a ton of manure. To be honest I volunteered for the low impact jobs like cutting grass for the chickies and planting tree collards... I know myself. Reuben obviously volunteered for the high impact heavy duty work, cutting down Fava, trellis building, shoveling manure...
In between tasks, I ended up just floating around the farm playing with the chickens (I have about 8,674,524,576 photos of chickens on my phone now), staring at all the gorgeous vegetables, chatting with the neighbors, and eating the free farm samples. Again, I WAS IN HEAVEN. The farm was really a community gathering spot. In addition to the farm, it has a playground, bbq area, demo kitchen, and adorable farm stand. It was literally something I would have loved to design in architecture school. The amount of community energy there was invigorating. I loved seeing all the families, especially the little kiddos running around the garden and climbing mountains of mulch.
The farm manager, Joseph, was just a joy to work with. He was full of so much humor and knowledge about all things agricultural, plus more I'm sure. He taught me the history of the Tree Collards and how easily it can grow. It's the official vegetable of Richmond, CA! When people were migrating from the South to Northern California during WWII they were able to cut the woody stocks, travel with them, and then plant them right in the ground of where they settled and have sweet hearty greens to eat once they proprogate. I ate a few leaves right there and they were surprisingly sweet, I could have continued snacking on them. By that point I was starving and ready to head to Drake's Dealership for a beer and a personal pizza, so I saved the Tree Collards for later.
Reuben mentioned how the greens would be great with some sweet caramelized onions while in the car ride home. It was settled! We were going to make Tree Collard, Caramelized Onion, and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Tartlets, with Gruyere! That's a long name. This could easily be made into one big impressive tart if you're having a dinner party or fancy brunch at home. I like the idea of mini tarts because you can throw a leftover tart in your backpack in the morning before you sprint to catch the express bus. I'm all about that.
I'm so excited to send this recipe to Joseph, I hope I make him proud with my use of Tree Collards! : )
Tree Collard, Caramelized Onion, and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Tartlets
makes 8 mini tarts or 1 large tart
1 1/2 C Chopped Tree Collards (any hearty green will work too)
2 Medium Onions
5 oz Goat Cheese
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
Salt + Pepper
1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry (defrosted)
- Peel and slice your onions into 1/4" slices. Pour olive oil into your pan or skillet and heat to medium heat. Not too hot! Add onions to skillet, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook over medium to medium low heat until caramelized. About 45-55 mins. Stir occasionally. Add a little bit more oil or turn down the heat if the onions start to char.
- While your onions are caramelizing, wash and chop your tree collards. Set aside in a small bowl.
- Place goat cheese in another small bowl, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and thyme. Mix with a spoon. Set aside.
- Once onions are caramelized, place in a small bowl and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, layout the sheet of defrosted puff pastry. Cut sheet into 8 equal rectangles and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Top each tartlet with a layer of goat cheese first, then the tree collards, and finally the caramelized onions. Leave a 1/2" border around each tartlet.
- Cook in the oven for 20 mins. Take out and shave gruyere over the tartlets and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 mins until golden brown and crispy.
- Take out, let cool, and enjoy!