I just returned from a long overdue family vacation in Savannah, Georgia and while it’s true that there’s no place like home, I do miss me some of that Southern charm. My parents are thinking about places they may want to retire in the next 15 years or so and naturally Savannah came to mind; warm weather, beautiful beaches and easy going pace (aka slow as molasses to native New Yorker like me), what’s not to love? While we were there, as enchanting as the Spanish moss and centuries old colonial mansions were, it was not easy finding vegetables to eat down there, at least not any that weren’t deep fried in batter or breadcrumbs. Luckily, my exhaustive search for everyday vitamins and minerals lead me to discover my love for collard greens. I’d seen them on the menu at a handful of Southern and soul food restaurants in the past but usually glossed over them in favor of fried chicken, corn bread, and sweet potato pie.
To my pleasant surprise, these sturdy leafy greens were not only full of flavor but full of health benefits as well. Collard greens are in the same family as kale and broccoli and actually contain even more Vitamins A, C and K than the hipster loved kale. What I especially love about collard greens is the texture; the leaves are quite tough like kale which means that you can simmer them for longer periods of time and not have to worry about them falling apart like spinach. I haven’t yet tried, but I’m willing to bet you could make a solid batch of chips with these leaves. The best part about this dish is that traditionally it is a little bit spicy and often accompanied with some bacon or ham hocks. If you’re looking for a ton of flavor without too much fat, try using chili, lime, ginger or lemongrass to flavor your greens instead. I personally like just a little chicken broth, fresh chopped Thai chili peppers and a spritz of lime juice to embolden your tastebuds and give your body a nutritional boost!
They do take about an hour to simmer but prep takes less than 5 minutes. The stems can definitely be eaten but I personally prefer the leaves because they soak up the most spice. If you want to discard the stems, chop the large leafy halves from the center and chop the leaves into 1 inch thick pieces. Simmer them in broth and in an hour you’ll have the most flavorful side of leafy greens you’ve ever had!