Collard greens are one of the true glories of soul food. Down South, a chicken dinner without them is almost unimaginable. Collards have earned their place on the table not just because of their taste, but also because of their heart-healthy fiber and high vitamin content. Collards are packed with folate, vitamins K and A, and cancer-fighting carotenoid lutein.
Like all plants in the brassica family, collard greens contain indole-3-carbinol, and sulfur compounds, which have been shown to help protect against some types of cancers.
Collards are traditionally slow-cooked with ham hocks for flavor, but we think they taste great with less cooking, and with garlic and herbs instead of ham. Collard greens are available year-round, but taste best in winter after being nipped by the first frost. For freshness and extra nutritional value, purchase collard greens that are grown locally if you can.
At the market, look for bunches of collards with small, bluish-green leaves rather than giant ones. The leaves should be crisp, without any wilting or yellow patches,. The woody stems of collards are inedible, so before cooking, strip the green leaves off and discard the stems.
The trick to maintaining the nutritional value of greens is to not overcook them. Sprinkle the greens with salt and steam them until water clings to their leaves and they are just tender. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Roll up the leaves and chop into 1-inch thick slices. They will then be ready to sauté or freeze.
For a tasty, vitamin-packed supper, try our Greens & White Bean soup with a slice of hearty whole-grain bread.