If you love a bright green, garlicky and lemony pesto as much as I do, you don’t just sit around and wait for basil season. Pestos can be made of many different greens including kale, chard, collards, cilantro, parsley or a combination of any of the aforementioned. Young, tender collard leaves as found in the high tunnel last week during the deep freeze that covered the ground of East Tennessee outside were perfect for pesto.
While traditional basil pesto is raw (although some do blanch for brightness), I blanched the collard greens because they taste better cooked than they do raw and I did really want the green to pop. It easy to blanch greens, you just bring a small pot of salted water to a rolling bowl. Make sure you have a bowl of ice water on hand near the stove. Dump the greens in the pot and let them simmer for about a minute or two (I went with about 2 for the collards). Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and submerge immediately into ice bath. This is called shocking and it’s puts a halt to the cooking process begun in the boiling water.
I got flounder because it was from the Southern East coast and wild caught. You can use any mild white fish for this recipe.
Collard Greens Pesto
1/2 pound collard greens, stemmed and blanched
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
In a food processor mix greens, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add olive oil with mixer running.
Sweet Potato Crusted Flounder
2 fillets of flounder
1 sweet potato, very thinly sliced on a mandolin (think potato chip)
1 egg, beaten
grape seed oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tsp minced fresh sage or dried sage
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
In a medium sized skillet, heat the grape seed oil, about 1/4 inch of it. Season the beaten egg in a shallow boil with salt and pepper and coat the fish in the egg mixture.
Layer the sweet potato on one side of the fish.
When the oil is nice and hot, you need to carefully transfer the fish to the frying pan POTATO SIDE DOWN. You are gonna need to use two hands to do this, the potato isn’t exactly fully stuck to the fish yet but once it crisps up on that side in the pan, it will be.
Cook the fish potato side down until the potato is slightly browned and crusted to the fish, about 4-5 minutes. Very carefully flip the fish so it doesn’t fall apart and brown the other side.
While the fish is cooking you can take a small skillet and melt the butter and sage. Add panko breadcrumbs to the butter and sage mixture. You can season with salt and pepper as well. Cook until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
To serve, spoon breadcrumbs over the fish and add a generous dollop of pesto on top.