Beyond Spinach—Introducing Collard Greens
By Sandy Beck
Fresh, leafy greens often translate to spinach. Spinach salad, steamed spinach, spinach and feta omelet, spinach and mushroom quiche, or creamed spinach. We know what to do with spinach.
But there is a big green world beyond spinach. Collard greens have evolved from that green, salty, over-boiled mush that public school cafeterias serve weekly and are gaining wider popularity. Collards are an excellent source of vitamins A (as beta carotene), C, K and folate, as well as manganese and calcium. And are good for detox smoothies; they help support the heart, lungs and immune system while lowering cholesterol and protecting against cancer with powerful antioxidants.
Wash collard greens carefully because their crinkled leaves can hide a lot of sand. Place leaves in a colander. Place the colander in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and soak. Then lift the colander to strain the sandy water, empty the bowl, and repeat several times until there is no sand left in the bowl. Unless they're very young and tender, cut out the central rib from each leaf. Wrap fresh collard greens in paper towels and place in a plastic bag with as much air removed from the bag as possible, and they can be stored in the refrigerator for about three to five days.
Your body needs a little fat to absorb some of the vitamins found in collards, and in most other greens, so include a bit of healthy olive oil in your collard green dish.
Collards can be substituted for your friend spinach in eggs Florentine, vegetable lasagna, quiches, frittatas, stir-fries and soups. Serve with brown rice and black-eyed peas for a healthy version of southern soul food. Because collard greens are tougher than spinach, I pre-cook them for five minutes or less in the microwave or a steamer before adding to a recipe. Don't add water; the moisture that clings to the freshly rinsed leaves is enough. Slicing the leaves into strips helps collard greens to cook more quickly. Raw greens cook down to a fourth of their volume—so plan accordingly.
Enjoy these simple, healthful recipes, and please share them with the school cafeteria ladies.
Simple, Healthful Steamed Collard Greens
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
3. Add cooked, hot greens to bowl and toss.
Baked Collard Green Frittata
6 eggs or 3 eggs + ¾ cup egg whites
3 Tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano + more for the top
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed
Serve with crusty bread and olive oil for dipping.