When gifted with a few hours of solitude on a rainy weekend morning, it’s an opportunity to cook a true, comfort Southern meal of Roast Herbal Chicken, mash potatoes, apple pie, and Southern-Style Collard Greens. Traditional African-American households serve collard greens slowly simmered with vegetables, pork, or smoked turkey. The debate for adding vinegar comes down to a personal taste. Depending on the time of year, a teaspoon of sugar sweetens the pot. Collard greens are in season from spring to early summer. Although, southern lore proclaims collard greens are sweeter after the first frost of the fall to winter seasons. Regardless of the season, collard greens are one of the few vegetables to enjoy year-round.
The health benefits of eating any type of dark leafy green vegetable, is as one friend mentions, nutritional “cash” for the body. The cancer-fighting nutrients provided by collard greens supports three majors systems of the body: Detox, antioxidant, and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory. When any of these systems are compromised, the risk for cancer significantly increases.
It’s true that Southern-Style Collard Greens lose their nutrients because of the longer cooking time, but such a comfort dish served with buttermilk cornbread aids in our mental health as well. To receive the most nutritional benefits from collard greens, try another cooking technique, such as stir-fry. This is a traditional cooking method for collard greens in Brazil and East Africa. With this technique, its versatility expands, such as serving them with any meal of the day.
Like green eggs and ham for breakfast? Try making your own version by serving stir-fried greens with fried eggs. Mix them into scrambled eggs. Fold into an omelet. Simply serve them with a hunk of buttered wheat bread for brunch. Place them over a freshly baked wheat bread and top with prosciutto for an open-faced sandwich at lunch. Toss with spaghetti pasta and Parmesan cheese for a quick dinner. Add chickpeas. Add shrimp. Enjoy in a fish taco. Sweeten them with fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, roast red peppers, or pappadew peppers. Get it? This is an extremely, healthy side dish. It’s fresh food fast. Once the greens are cleaned ahead of time, the steps from prepping, cooking, to serving are done in six minutes.
Let’s be honest, cleaning collard greens for a stir-fry is quite a process. Use the extra time on a weekend to pre-cut and thoroughly wash the greens. After wards, place the greens in a tightly sealed bag. Enjoy stir-fried collard greens throughout the week.
These days, it’s normal to see a large bag of shredded collard greens in my refrigerator. Stir-fried greens are usually served as breakfast or lunch in my household. Gradually, they’re replacing my other comfort dish of slow simmering greens. It’s a logical evolution, because the fresh taste of these quick, garlicky greens is quite addictive. In our instant gratification culture, Stir-Fried Collard Greens has a place in comfort Southern cuisine made healthy.
Sauté Collard Greens with Tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 small onion; slice thin
2 to 3 garlic cloves; slice paper-thin
1/2 tsp. harissa (or a spice mix of crushed red pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin)
1 to 2 plum tomatoes; diced*
3 to 4 cups of shredded collard greens (Directions for shredding greens below)
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
1. After prepping all ingredients, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium to high temperature.
2. When the skillet is hot, add the onions and quickly stir until translucent. Be careful not to brown the onions.
3. Add the garlic and harissa spice mix and stir for less than 15 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes.
4. Add the collard greens and quickly season with salt and pepper.
5. Quickly stir greens for a few minutes until wilted.
6. Serve hot with your favorite meal.
*Recommend using fresh summer tomatoes and use canned in the winter.
» Recipe can be easily increased to serve more
» Adjust ingredient portions to a personal taste. Example: Add more or less harissa to adjust spiciness.
Shredded Collard Greens
About 1 lb. fresh collard greens
1. Using a knife, cut and discard the long tough light green stem by cutting on both sides. The wide, tender dark green leaf is what’s needed for this recipe. See photo illustration no. 745.
2. After a few stems are removed from the leaves, roll them lengthwise, similar to a cigar shape. Slice less than an eight-inch width, really thin. Repeat until all of the collar greens are cut.
3. To Clean Collard Greens: Place sliced collard greens in a very large bowl and cover with cold water. Using your hands, swirl the water around the greens to loosen any grit. Rinse and drain in a colander. Repeat until the water is clear in the bowl and without grit or dirt (a minimum of three times). In the second to last rinse, add a dash of white vinegar to the water to disinfect greens.
4. Place greens in a colander to drain and dry for at least an hour. Occasionally, turn greens over to let leaves at the bottom of the colander dry. The greens won’t dry completely, for this step is to remove most of the moisture before bagging. They’re also ready to stir-fry after the final rinse in step 3.
5. Place greens in a large Ziploc or sealed bag or container and use as needed.