Just about the only time we ate collard greens, specifically, was on New Years Day. Then, it was a good luck food, along with black-eyed peas. I grew up in South Carolina and this is a southern U.S. tradition. It also shows up in other countries and cultures, too. Collard greens are a healthy, everyday, part of soul food meals beloved in the South.
In our family, though, mostly, we just ate “greens.” No kind specified. Often, we kids would turn up our noses. Mom would make us eat a few bites. The greens were stewed with ham or bacon. They were gloppy and often topped with vinegar. Sorry, Mom, but that’s still not my favorite preparation.
Now I eat greens a lot. I love them on pizza. I add them to soups or quickly wilt them through stir frying. Usually, I choose softer-leaved greens such as Swiss chard. (Okay, so I’m a Swiss chard fan. The plant is gorgeous in the garden.)
Collard greens, though, have their own charms. It turns out, they’re actually brassicas. Think of collard greens as a very loose-leafed relative of cabbage. The leaves are full of terrific nutrition. Like most vegetables, they contain compounds whose effects scientists are still trying to study. Just go with the simple info: Mom says greens are good for you. Do you really need all the details?
When it comes to lettuces and greens, usually the greener the better if you’re looking for nutrition. Collard greens are mild in flavor, not peppery like turnip greens. Collard greens are fibrous and the long cooking helps make them easier to eat, particularly if the leaves are older and large.
I’m fresh out of collard greens photos. Waiting for them to come into season locally. So, you can look at a google image page, first: Google Image Search of Collard Greens http://bit.ly/iIq98Q
There are lots of good resources for further collard green studies. Here are a few links.
Greeks and Romans Grew Collards
Growing and Harvesting Collards
Cooking Collard Greens