I have never appreciated collard greens. It is probably because in Texas, where I grew up, collard greens were always cooked for hours with ham hocks!
It is a shame that I overlooked collard greens for all these years because it turns out that they are very high in vitamins A and C, manganese, folate, dietary fiber and calcium, and a good source of potassium, vitamin B2 and B6. As seems to be the trend at Plate and Pour, my CSA box makes me love all sorts of veggies, even ones I disregarded in the past, like bok choy and, you guessed it, collard greens. Thank you, Farm Fresh to You, for helping us eat healthy, seasonal and local!
I am also constantly trying to add protein to our vegetarian meals so I braised the collard greens and then tossed in cooked cannellini beans. Any bean would work well with collard greens, including traditional black eyed peas or nontraditional black eyed peas with an Indian twist.
I approached braising collard greens similar to kale and broccoli rabe: quickly blanched the greens in boiling water and then simmered with onions, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and olive oil until tender. Collard greens do require a longer cooking time, between 45 minutes to 1 hour, and the flavor changes from bitter to slightly sweet over the cooking process.
We ate the braised greens and beans as a side dish but our favorite way to enjoy them was in an impromptu taco! We layered the braised greens and beans in corn tortillas and topped with salsa for a quick and healthy taco night! Healthy and delicious!
Braised collard greens (with cannellini beans)
1 bunch collard greens, stemmed and washed in several changes of cold water
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
a drizzle or two of fresh lemon juice
optional 2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 1 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add collard greens, blanch for 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Drain and set aside cooking water.
In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, cook, stirring often until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, cook about 3 minutes. Add collard greens, stir, add 1 cup of cooking water and salt. Bring to a simmer, cover partially and continue to simmer for 1 hour. Stir often and add more cooking water as needed, so the collard greens are always simmering in some liquid.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm or hot with freshly squeezed lemon juice.