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{Side Dish Winner}
Ashley Finamore

Growing up in the kitchen with her Italian grandmother preparing quintessential Tuscan recipes, Ashley Finamore has an appreciation for tradition. But as a vibrant young pharmacist, she also likes to give tradition a twist. “I love combining the classic foods of Tuscany with the staples of Southern cuisine,” she explains. In this spin on Grandma’s pancetta and broccoli rabe, Finamore blends the slightly salty Italian pork with earthy and more subtle local collards. Leeks add a hint of onion flavor. “We all thought this dish was restaurant quality,” says judge Marion Sullivan of the mild, eye-pleasing side.

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Ingredients

  • 2 large bunches local collards
  • 16 oz. low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 large leeks, washed, white part diced (slice 2-3 rings for garnish)
  • 1/3 lb. pancetta, chopped
     

Directions

Cut or tear collard leaves off stems. Clean by rinsing repeatedly in cold water. Drain. Cut into two-inch strips. Place in a large pot, cover generously with vegetable broth (reserve 1/3 cup broth for later), and bring to a low boil. Cook until collards are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic for two minutes, or until tender. Using slotted spoon, remove garlic to a bowl. Add diced leeks to pan, and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes—do not brown. Remove leeks to garlic bowl. Add pancetta to frying pan, and sauté until browned.

Return garlic and leeks to pan. Add reserved vegetable broth and collards. Stir gently and thoroughly until collards are completely cooked, about three minutes. Serve.
 

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