Collard greens, for me, have always been a bit of a mystery. I didn't grow up eating them, but I certainly heard the word a fair amount. What were they anyway? Was it a type of plant? Was it the way they were prepared (I pictured a bowl of cooked spinach with a "collar" of vegetables around it or something). I simply hadn't ever had any, nor had I come across them in a grocery store. It wasn't until Beryl grew a large amount of collards in our garden this year that it became clear to me. Quite clear: because all of a sudden, we had copious amounts of collards that needed eating.
Turns out (and I know this is very much review for many of you) the traditional way to prepare collards is to cook them long and slow in water with a smoked ham hock or some other kind of meat or bone for flavor. But that was not going to help us get through the heap of collards that we now had... or at least not on weeknights. I did some searching around and found a much more weeknight friendly preparation. The Brazilian method for cooking collard greens is to cut them into very thin strips and sautée them briefly in some oil.
By cutting them into little strips, the cooking time is reduced drastically from hours to minutes, and you retain a vibrant green color and fresh flavor. Include a little garlic and some salt and pepper, and you've got a delicious side veggie dish. Collards are available sometimes at farmers markets, and are pretty easy to grow. You could add some minced ginger along with the garlic if you're a ginger fan (and who isnt?).
a pound or so of collard greens, tough stems and center ribs removed
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
lard or olive oil
salt and pepper
Stack the collard greens and roll them into a long cigar shape. Slice them very thinly into strips.
Mince and mash the garlic with about a half teaspoon of salt using the side of your knife against the cutting board to press it into a paste. Heat the lard or the oil over medium high heat until hot, then add the garlic paste. Stir very briefly, just about 10 or 20 seconds until the garlic is aromatic. Add the collards with freshly ground black pepper to taste and toss for 3 minutes or so until just tender and still brightly colored.