How to Pick, Prep, and Cook with Collard Greens

On their own, collard greens have a mild, smoky taste, but they also take on other flavors beautifully. Here's what to do with them while they're in season.
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On their own, collard greens have a mild, smoky taste, but they also take on other flavors beautifully. Given their versatility, it’s no surprise they’re featured in dishes globally, from the Brazilian couve à mineira to the Kashmiri haak. Here in the U.S., collards are a soul food staple.

Pick
Brick Goldman of Goldman Farm in Cullen, Va., says to choose “nice green leaves with no blemishes. Look for leaves that aren’t wilted, then you know they’re fresh.” To store, simply place collards in a zip-top bag and refrigerate. Collards should keep well for up to five days.

Prep
Collard greens can be sandy, so to clean, submerge them in water to loosen any grit, then wash and dry. For raw preparations including salads and slaws, you’ll want to use smaller, tender collard leaves, and cut them into thin ribbons. Larger, more fibrous leaves are best roasted, sautéed, or braised; slice off the woody stems, which can be set aside for pickling, and then cut or tear the leaves into bite-size pieces before cooking.

Try This
• For a veg version of traditional Southern collard greens, sauté the collards and garlic in olive oil, and simmer in rich vegetable broth; to make it a meal, add sautéed onions, carrots, and celery, and finish with a (drained) can of white beans.

• Heat vinegar, salt, sugar, and pickling spices until steaming, and add chopped collard stems; pour into jars, seal, and refrigerate overnight.

• Sauté garlic in olive oil, and stir in red chile paste, fresh lime juice, and collards; cook over low heat.

• Whip up a quick appetizer of Collard Green Phyllo Triangles.

What's your favorite way to cook with collard greens? Share in the comments!