Collard Greens: A Superfood for All Seasons and All Regions
Collard greens in New England? There must be some mistake. Collards can only be cooked in pork fat and served on a verandah down south – right?
No mistake. Collard greens are spilling over in farmers' markets and produce aisles, and they have a lot to offer us Yankees. Sure, they're great braised in bacon but they can also be treated like kale or any of their leafy green compatriots, meaning they can be sautéed or steamed, roasted or baked into a healthy chip, or even eaten raw.
Wash and stem the leaves before cooking and be sure to not overcook the greens, as they'll pick up a sulfur taste that's far from their fantastic green flavor. Vinegar or salt softens the bitterness and brings out collards' true colors but hold off on salting until the end of the cooking process to avoid leaching the greens of their moisture and turning them mushy.
Ashley Coerdt from Casey Farm was used to their down-home Southern style until she discovered how "nice and crunchy" the greens were raw. She recommends picking smaller leaves to eat raw, as they get tougher as they grow, though she likes to use bigger leaves as wraps.
Collards are a no-nonsense green, easy to cook and easy to grow. As Ashley puts it, "They're pretty simple, to be honest. Collards happen to be one of those things that we kind of just pop in the ground and let them do their thing." The hearty greens will store in the fridge for up to one week, prewashed in a sealed plastic bag.
And it turns out that when you hold the ham hock, collard greens are insanely healthy. One serving cooked contains just 50 calories and plenty of fiber. Calcium and vitamin C make a good showing, and one serving boasts over 300% of the daily recommendation of vitamin A (the better to see with, plus it helps support great teeth and skin) and over 1,000% (no, that is not a typo) of the recommended vitamin K for a big anti-inflammatory boost, cardiovascular health and more.
You could call them a superfood, but, well, they're so gosh darned humble. Just call them collards and help yourself to more.