Kale may be the trendy cousin, but the tender, meaty leaves of collard greens offer a world of culinary opportunities for hearty spring meals.
Packed with protein, fiber, and other good stuff, these greens can add a serious nutritional punch to your weeknight meal. Known for their bitterness, which is usually mellowed through long cooking, it turns out that the bitter flavor is confined to the stems. Easy solution? Remove the thick stems before use.
Here are five ways we’re cooking with collard greens this month.
Shred the leaves and toss them in your stir fry or simply sauté with garlic and olive oil. Unlike spinach, which wilts quickly, the texture of the collards will remain toothsome and the green vibrant. If you eat meat, collards play especially well with fatty, salty bacon or pancetta, and sautéeing them in the rendered fat adds another level of richness.
The large, firm leaves of collard greens hold up far better than butter lettuce or kale for wrapping up the likes of roast chicken and avocado, falafels, or grilled tofu and ginger slaw (basically, anything you’d usually stuff into a sandwich, burrito or flatbread).
Simply remove the large stem and use the smooth, flexible leaves to wrap your ingredients. The bolder the flavors the better, as the collard greens have a mild, earthiness that can mute the fillings.
The most classic preparation of collards is still a favorite. Saute garlic and onions (plus bacon or pancetta, if you like), add the destemmed collards and slightly wilt, then cover with broth or water, a couple tablespoons of cider vinegar, and plenty of salt and pepper and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour for the silky, tender collards of your southern dreams.
This method lends itself to slow cookers, if you are a set and forget kind of cook. Feel free to add hot chili flakes if you like your greens spicy.
Yes, you can eat them raw. We have kale to thank for paving the way for denser greens in traditionally lettuce-based salads, and likewise, you should shred or mince the greens before tossing with your favorite salad ingredients.
We are partial to robust, spicy southwestern salads and rich caesar dressings, as these greens are great palates for the boldest, richest flavors you can throw at them.
Stuffed & Baked
Move aside cabbage, collards are great for making Italian and Greek-style baked rolls. Swap them in for your favorite stuffed cabbage recipe.
First, blanch your greens with a quick two-minute dip in boiling water followed by an ice bath. Place a generous scoop of your filling of choice (like cooked rice with sausage and cheese) and roll them up like little burritos. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with marinara sauce and arrange the packets seam side down. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for about 35-45 minutes.