Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Collard Greens

By Chef Andrea

     Believe it or not, I don’t think I ever ate collard greens until I came to HVF! I remember seeing them in the grocery store back in Indiana, but our “greens” safety zone consisted of iceberg lettuce and spinach. We never ate cooked greens. Now I fear the long winter when we don’t have greens available and look forward to the return of greens in the spring.
     This week’s selection is collards, one of the heartiest greens we grow. Collards are characterized by large, paddle-shaped leaves that are blue-gray in color and slightly wavy around the edges. The leaves are thick and have a mild flavor similar to cabbage. While we grow and harvest collards for much of the summer and into the fall, we typically save this green for your boxes until later in the season. We do this partly because it is more frost tolerant and we can keep it in the field longer than most greens, but also because it is sweeter and has a better flavor after it has been through a few cold nights!
     Collards are eaten throughout different parts of the world including Africa, India, Egypt, Spain and Pakistan. The seasonings and cooking methods may vary slightly, but in general collard greens go well with garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, mustard seeds, potatoes, smoked meats, black-eyed peas, peanuts, corn and potatoes…to name a few. In this country we usually think of collards as a “Southern” food. In the southern states collard greens are often prepared by cooking collard greens along with some kind of a smoked pork product such as hocks, bacon, etc and liquid for quite awhile until the greens are soft and tender. While a longer cooking time and some liquid do help to soften collard greens and make them tender, you don’t have to cook them in this way. You can also slice them very thinly and saute them just until they are wilted. When cooked this way they will retain their green color better and will be tender, but not quite as soft. Collard leaves also make a great wrapper to use in place of a tortilla. If you want to use it to make a wrap, you should either blanch it or lightly steam it before using in order to soften the leaf slightly and make it more pliable.
     Before using collard greens, wash them in a sink of water and then remove the thick, white center stem and rib. Either cut into bite-sized pieces or stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them and then thinly slice the roll. Collard greens may be added to stir-fry, pasta dishes or even use them as the base for a creamy cole slaw in lieu of cabbage. They are also delicious when added to ham and bean soup or incorporated into a fall curry dish.
As our growing season is coming to a close, we hope you enjoy some of these last green indulgences and try a new recipe or two!

Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Lemon

Yield: Serves 4
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced (or more if you
   like garlic!)
¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
1 bunch collard greens (12 ounces),
   ribs removed, thinly sliced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Grated zest of 1 fresh lemon, plus more
   for serving
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt, to taste
12 oz dried spaghetti
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano,
   for serving

Photo Borrowed from

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add collard greens and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pine nuts and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt.
2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain pasta.
3. Add pasta and reserved water to skillet, tossing to coat. Serve immediately, garnished with additional lemon zest and sprinkled with cheese.

Recipe sourced from

Collard Greens with Lime & Peanuts

Yield: Serves 4
Photo Borrowed from Emily Nichols post on

1 bunch collard greens, stems
   removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil 
¾ cup chicken stock
⅓ cup peanuts, toasted and roughly
Juice of one lime
Salt, to taste

1. Remove stems, chop and rinse the collard greens;  don’t worry about drying them, the water clinging to the leaves after rinsing will help them cook down.
2. Toast and chop peanuts, set aside.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
4. Add greens and use tongs to toss until well coated, season with a bit of salt.
5. Add stock and reduce heat to simmer.
6. Cook on low, uncovered, allowing liquid to reduce slowly until the stock has nearly all evaporated.  This may take about 20-40 minutes (do not rush this part).
7. Once liquid has reduced, taste the greens to check texture (this part is all about preference;  if you like them softer, add more liquid and continue to cook).
8. When greens are finished cooking, remove from heat and stir in peanuts, lime juice and remaining 1 tsp coconut oil.

HVF Note: When we tested this recipe, we served the collard greens over cooked rice.  This recipe serves 4 if eaten as a side dish or 2 if eaten as the main dish.

Recipe adapted by one posted by Emily Nichols on

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