Collards Are The New Kale

Kale is all the rage these days. That’s super great, of course, ‘cause it’s really good for you, but kale isn’t the only healthy green out there!  

If you have a CSA with BUG Farms like I do, then you probably received some in your veggie basket this week. And maybe you are wondering what the heck to do with these huge leafy greens?! if you grew up in Louisiana, collard greens would be a standard fare. Cooked in butter with onions, salt and pepper. Or maybe some bacon or a ham bone for flavor. But growing up in Idaho and Utah, I didn't see collards very often. And it has taken me a long time to figure out how to cook them. But now they are one of my favorite greens!  

So let me break down the Collard Green for you. 

Collards are actually very versatile. For instance, did you know they make a wonderful sandwich? The large flat leaves make them perfect! Simply steam the whole leaves until bright green and tender. Roll up your favorite sandwich fillings such as hummus, turkey, avocado, bean spreads, chicken, tuna or egg salad and even falafel with tahini sauce. So good! You can also use steamed collards in place of seaweed for sushi. Or add black beans, brown rice, and some pico de gallo for a collard burrito wrap.

If you plan to add collards to other dishes, you may want to cook them first. Simply steam or sauté collards in oil, broth or butter until bright green and tender. Once cooked, collards can be easily added to many recipes. I often cook a large batch and then refrigerate to be used as needed during the week.

Here are some delicious ideas:

  • Add to pasta sauce or toss into hot cooked pasta with a splash of olive oil and a dash of grated cheese.
  • Try raw collards in a Penne pasta salad with other greens and Kalamata olives, feta cheese and garlic.
  • Use collards as a bed for hot cooked grains, colorful veggies or legumes.
  • Add to soups, stews and stir-fries. Or bake up into a casserole
  • Make a salad such like a Collard Cob Salad  
  • Quiche with Collards 
  • Enjoy collards for breakfast in a Southern-Style Baked Eggs with Grits and Collard Greens OR collard-stuffed English muffins 

Use Collards in recipes that call for spinach or kale. Hearty leafy greens are generally interchangeable in recipes, so you can swap one for another depending on what you have on hand.  
When shopping, avoid yellow, damaged and torn leaves. Opt instead for crisp, dark-green, firm leaves. Remove the tough stems before cooking. Collards cook down in volume so be sure to prepare lots!

Shredded Collard Green Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese and Cashews

The flavor of raw collard greens combines perfectly with tender roasted sweet potatoes and tangy, rich goat cheese in this hearty starter. I have been experimenting with Red Palm oil recently and West Africans cook virtually every dish they make with red palm oil, which is made from crushing the fruit of the palm, unlike palm kernel oil, which is derived from the fruit's seeds. This recipe calls for red palm oil, but feel free to substitute with whatever you have at home! 
Organic, fair-trade brands are available at Amazon, Whole Foods, and from West African specialty grocers.

Serves 6; Prep time 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp. red palm oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 lb. collard greens, stems removed, leaves thinly shredded (6 cups)
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1⁄4 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potato slices with 2 tablespoons of the palm oil, the cumin, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and roast the sweet potatoes, flipping once halfway through cooking, until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a rack and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the lime juice and ginger and let stand for 10 minutes to soften. Whisk in the remaining 1⁄4 cup palm oil until emulsified and then season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  3. To serve, place the collard greens in a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the dressing, massaging it into the greens for about 5 minutes. Transfer the greens to a serving platter, top with the sweet potatoes, and sprinkle with the goat cheese and cashews. Serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

Do you eat collard greens? Got a favorite recipe or a great idea? Let us know in the comments below!