Collard greens are predominately a vegetable used in southern cooking. Usually cooked with smoked or salty meats – ham hocks, smokey turkey drumsticks, or pork neckbones – the salt and smoke help to give the collard greens some flavor.
Down south, collard greens are often eaten on New Year’s Day, along with black-eyed peas and cornbread. Collard greens look like folded pieces of money and so the superstition in the South is to eat them to ensure wealth in the coming year. Being a superstitious person myself because of my Chinese background, I may just start incorporating this tradition on New Year’s Day too!
Aside from facts and superstitions surrounding collard greens, the most important thing about collard greens is its nutritional and health benefits. It is known to help reduce cholesterol and fight cancer.
High in vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin E, and manganese, collard greens are also a great source of vitamin K and omega 3 fatty acids. Collard greens are a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the same family as kale, broccoli, and cabbage. If you have read my post on swiss chard (see link at the end of this post), you will see the similarities between the two. They are both large, green, leafy vegetables and are cut and prepared in the same manner. And the BIG PLUS, they are both really good for you!
To prepare you have to cut and detach the leaves from the center stem. Keep in mind, like swiss chard, the leaves will shrink when cooked. So I have 5 large leaves of collard greens in the photo, which will be enough for one side dish of vegetables for one person.
This is my first time trying collard greens. I decided to stir-fry them in garlic and coconut oil and mixed in some sliced white mushrooms and a dash of seafood soy sauce for flavor (since I am not using salted meats).
My collard greens turned out pretty tasty! They are not as crunchy as swiss chard, which is why I still like swiss chard better. Collard greens seem best cooked with something added to it since its leaves are thinner than swiss chard and can absorb immense amounts of flavor. Swiss chard, however, is great prepared with a little oil and garlic and can be eaten simply alone.
So if you are at a restaurant, particularly somewhere down south like Louisiana, you gotta try some collard greens cooked southern style! But be forewarned, they won’t be as healthy because of all the salt and spices added to the collard greens!
If you live in a big city like New York, San Francisco, or LA, there are plenty of good southern style restaurants that offer collard greens cooked authentically in the southern fashion. Experiment with adding some variety to your life by trying collard greens, whether at home or at your next restaurant outing. Enjoy!!!