|Fresh Collard Greens|
Greens, as we've come to know them, weren't really a part of our diet. We heard of Dandelion Greens, but never really understood why one would pick weeds and eat them. Mustard greens were another mysterious thing that didn't quite compute. Did mustard grow as a plant? We knew it as a liquid substance in a bright yellow bottle that was put on a brat.
The closest we got to greens was spinach and that was usually cooked within an inch of its life and wasn't all that pleasant tasting. Our father didn't like it, so we didn't have to eat it much.
As an adult I began to learn more about greens. So began my introduction to Collards. In truth I never even noticed them in the store. I wasn't even sure what I was looking for when shopping for them the first time. However, I did my research and studied a number of recipes and began my adventure in good greens.
For the longest time I thought greens were just a southern dish. It turns out that collard greens are very international in their use. Countries that grow these greens include Brazil, Portugal, Africa, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Southern Spain, India, and Southern United States. Most often this vegetable is served as accompaniment to an entree of fish or meat.
I have a daughter who has gained great skill at cooking in the southern way. While I've been encouraged by family members to try my hand at a number of traditional southern dishes, today's recipe isn't mine or Pam's, the other Prickly Pear. It is, in fact, Anna, my daughter's recipe for greens. It will be coming up later in this article.
Collards are cultivated for their thick, slightly bitter, edible leaves. While they are usually available year-rounds, they are best during the cold months, usually after the first frost. Younger leaves are more tender, but age does not affect flavor. The fresh leaves can be stored for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Once cooked, they can be frozen.
One cup of cooked collard greens contains nearly half of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamins A, K, E and C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B-6, folate.
If you can't get your calcium from dairy products, look to collards. One cup has 1/4 the calcium your body needs each day. You'll also get some iron and magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. And if that isn't enough, the same one cup includes lutein which is an antioxidant in your retina to help prevent damage.
In and of themselves, green have little flavor and are usually cooked with other spices and smoked meat and vegetables to jazz them up.
|Cooked collard greens|
Anna's Famous Collard Greens:
What you will need:
5 bunches of Collard Greens
1 package smoked meat (ham hocks, or turnkey drumsticks)
2 jalapenos chopped
What you will need to do:
Clean greens very well. Remove stems and discard. Chopped greens into 2 inch pieces. There will be a lot, but don't worry. They cooked way down!
|cleaned and chopped collard greens|
Place smoked meat in a large pot and cover with water. Simmer for about an hour. Add greens and all your seasonings, along with the chopped jalapenos. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4-5 hours. This will depend on how soft you like your greens. The longer they are cooked, the softer they will be, but you don't want to end up with just a pile of mush, so don't over cooked them.
Adjust your seasonings to your taste. This is the sort of dish where you toss in everything and add as you like.
Serve with all your favorites like fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, etc.
So if you, like me, thought that greens were just for our neighbors to the south, think again. Give them a try. Enjoy lots of green....they will do you well.
Now go out and make something good.