May 24, 2010

Cooking and Freezing Collards (and Kale)

This winter, I purchased some collard seeds on a whim. I'd never eaten the vegetable, but I knew they were healthy (packed full of vitamin A, K, C, folate, calcium, potassium, and Omegas 3 and 6), so I thought I'd give them a go. Well, it turned out every seed I planted grew into a seedling. I was worried I'd be overrun with collards. But now that we've tried eating them, I seriously doubt I'll have enough to freeze! (UPDATE 8/13/13: Collards taste a lot like kale, although their flavor is a bit stronger.)


It turns out, collards are an ancient food, but in the U.S. they are known mostly as a Southern food. Because slave-owners wanted easy, cheap ways to feed their slaves, they adopted the African technique of boiling greens. Basically, the traditional Southern way to prepare collards is to throw them in a pot with a hamhock or a piece of roasted meat, boil them until tender, then serve the greens. The liquid in the pot is known as "pot likker" and is served with corn bread that's dipped into the greenish water. Of course, cooking collards this way removes much of their nutrition, so I sought out a healthier alternative.

Here is it. Even my picky preschooler loved this, and my husband (who isn't generally a vegetable-lover) liked it so well, he wanted it again the next day! Thankfully, the recipe is also super-quick and easy.

What You Need:
1 1/2 lbs. collards (ideally, choose young leaves; if you're harvesting your own, select the outer leaves so the plant will continue producing all summer; for older leaves, remove the tough ribs and stems)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
pepper

Knife
Frying pan

How to Do It:
Stack half the collard leaves and roll them into the shape of a large cigarette. Cut crosswise into strips about 1/16 inch wide. Repeat with the second half of the leaves.
Mince the garlic and add salt to create a paste. Pour olive oil into the pan and cook the garlic, stirring frequently, until it barely starts turning color. Add collards and sprinkle with pepper. Stir frequently until the collards are just tender and a nice bright green (about 3 to 4 minutes).

How to Freeze Collards (or Kale)
Collards (and kale) can also be frozen by tossing them in a pot of boiling water for about one minute. Remove them promptly and throw them into a bowl of ice. Once completely cool and dry, freeze.


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