Collard greens are REALLY healthy. They come from the same group of foods as kale and broccoli, they are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and magnesium. They are low fat, relatively high in protein, very high in fiber, and low in calories. AND collard greens are delicious.
Ask my guys. Believe it or not, all of them have loved collard greens from day one. Even when my boys were little. There are rarely any leftovers of these guys. Oh! And my dogs like to snack on pieces of the stems!
So, looking for a new, bold and healthy alternative to your old veggie standards? This recipe is for you.
Collard greens aren’t widely consumed in all states. In the US, it is primarily known as a southern food dish, or often described as one of the popular soul food options. But there is a variety of this dark green leafy vegetable that is very popular in Portugal, and therefore, became a staple of Brazilian food traditions. I shared with you the traditional Portuguese caldo verde, which is made with collard greens. Today, I want to share the recipe for the vegetable side dish I grew up eating.
Not to take anything away from the southern food version of collard greens. But in keeping with my commitment to healthy eating after the new year, unlike the soul food version, there is no bacon, ham hock, bacon fat, or lard in this recipe. The richness in taste comes from the fresh vegetable itself, sautéed and steamed, with a beautiful olive oil and an abundance of garlic.
Let’s look at what goes into making this Brazilian collard green recipe
Some of the healthiest and tastiest dishes are often the ones with the fewest and freshest ingredients.
Collards, olive oil, garlic. Salt, of course. But that’s it.
Unlike the traditional southern recipes, this one does not require a lengthy cooking time. And as you will see below, by cutting the large leaves into uniform, small ribbons, the collard greens become quite tender enough to eat with only a few minutes in the pan.
Of course, some Brazilian recipes call for adding bacon to the collard ribbons. But since it is so often served as a side to roasted meats or meat stews, there is really no need to add any additional protein.
Let’s look at the simple steps to prepare the collard greens
Start by washing the leaves well to remove any dirt or grit.
Next, remove the stems. Usually, just snapping them off at the base of the leaves works just fine. Every now and then, you run into a leaf with a really healthy, sturdy stem that may be too thick to include. If that’s the case, just trim it out part-way up the leaf and then discard.
Then stack 5 or 6 leaves, going from largest on the bottom to smaller on top. Roll them tightly into a cigar shape. Then use a sharp knife to cut ribbons, no more than 1/8 of an inch in thickness.
Repeat in stacked and rolled groups until all the leaves have been cut into thin ribbons. Then dice the garlic.
This recipe serves four. Because collard greens cook down considerably, you will need three bunches, which produce about 8-9 cups of sliced ribbons.
Then heat up the garlic and olive oil over medium heat.
Use a lot of garlic. Don’t worry, the collard greens are bold and they stand up to the quantity called for in the recipe. But don’t brown the garlic. Sauté just until it starts to soften and it is very aromatic.
Add the collard greens in large handfuls to a large skillet, sprinkling with a little salt in between each layer. You can true up the salt at the end, so don’t add too much at this time.
Then cover with a lid and cook. The intent is not to sear or over-cook. You really just want the collards to wilt in the steam created in the covered pan.
Toss the greens on the bottom of the pan with a set of tongs, rotating them to the top, then cover again to finish cooking.
The collard greens are now wilted and tender. Adjust for salt and drizzle olive oil for flavor.
Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.
Beautiful emerald green, and both rich and flavorful.
Oh, so tender and juicy with that gorgeous garlic back drop!
Little Matt (about 6 or 7 years of age) always asked to drink the juice at the bottom of the pan. I know now that people refer to that as the pot liquor.
Matt loves him some collard greens pot liquor!
Healthy Collard Greens
- Collard greens 3 bunches or about 8-9 cups cut
- 3 tablespoons quality olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves
- Start by washing the collard green leaves to remove dirt and grit.
- Then remove the stems by snapping them at the base of the leaves.
- Stack 5-6 leaves larger to smaller, roll into a cigar shape, and slice thinly into 1/8 or smaller ribbons.
- Dice the garlic.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil and all the garlic until the garlic has softened and is very aromatic.
- Then add the collard greens large handfuls at a time, lightly sprinkling with salt between layers.
- Cover and cook for approximately 4 minutes.
- Remove the lid and use tongs to rotate the collard greens so that the layer on the bottom is now on top.
- Cover and cook for another four minutes or so.
- Remove the lid, adjust salt to taste, drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, stir, and cook for 3-4 four minutes more.
- Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.