Thursday, July 17, 2008

None of That Mushy Stuff Please

I am lucky because I love vegetables. Rutabaga, you bet! Brussels Sprouts, bring it on! Kohlrabi ..alrighty. Collards….not so much. However, I spent the vast majority of my life here in Richmond and so every encounter I had with a collard was... well… like a bad blind date…lifeless and I saw no potential. Then one day someone was talking about how much they loved collards. This is a person I was confident was not a mushy veggie eater. So, I asked how she cooked them, and a convert was born. If you have never had them, I suspect if you like wilted spinach or broccoli rabe you would like collards. They are far, far more course, which is one thing I adore about them. I think they are actually less bitter then wilted spinach. We are having them tonight with some leftover pork. I can’t wait.

1 Bunch of Collards
3 Heaping tablespoons a minced garlic
2 TBS Olive Oil
Dash of ground red pepper (optional, I like the wee kick)
Salt and pepper.

Okay collards can vary greatly. Some places you get them the greens will have NO grime in them and some places the greens are chocked full of grime/sand. To be sure, fill you sink with cool water, and soak them. Change water a couple of times. Honestly, I think the best source of collards is actually Food Lion. Once they are clean chop them up (I personally like mine sliced to form almost like a fettuccini noodle, but that is just my deal). I also like a good part of the stem, however, I would tell you if it is your first time using them, skip the stem. Heat ½ of olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of garlic. If you are making the whole bunch (as I do, they really cook down and are great leftover), you will not be able to get all into your pan. Fit what you can in there and loosely put a cover over you pan if you can, after a minute or so, stir and add more. Keep working in batches and once you have ¾ of the collards in the pan, put in the rest of the oil and garlic. Cook until all of the greens are wilted (some will be a bit more wilted, but again collards are so course they really can stand the longer cooking time). When they are done, really depends on you. Season to taste. You will be a convert.

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