Swap-Box Hero: Hot Under the Collard

Despite offering free bundles with purchase for late-Wednesday wine customers, it seems we still end up with a swap box full of collards whenever they’re in the share.

I don’t know why they’re so intimidating.

I mean, I get they can be bitter, but a little bit of fat mellows the harsh tannins*, making those deep blue-green leaves a tender, tasty delivery vehicle for loads of Vitamins A, C, and K.

You can use butter, olive oil—or, for real southern style, smoked pork fat. But lately, I’m partial to this Thai-influenced preparation that slots coconut milk into the tannin-taming role. The result is a creamy-spicy delight.

Prepping collards is easier than dealing with rufflier greens like kale. Start by stacking a few like-sized leaves on top of each other.
Fold the stack in half, right along the spine. Then take your knife and slice off the stems.
Roll the leaves into a tight bundle.
Slice the bundle into ribbons, and they’re ready for the salad spinner.

Adapted from Food 52. Serves 3-4. Leftovers reheat beautifully.

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic or 1 garlic scape, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (I love ginger, so I go on the high end)
  • 1 large bunch collard greens (about a pound), de-stemmed and sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (stick to the full-fat version; the reduced-fat stuff gets grainy)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • juice of a small lime
  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (I go low-sodium)
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red chile flakes, or more, to taste

In a large skillet (or wok), melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sauté until translucent and soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly for another minute.

Add the collards all at once. Keep them moving—scoop and fold, scoop and fold—until they’re just wilted (probably only a couple minutes).

Add all the liquids (coconut milk, stock, lime juice, tamari/soy), stir, and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch of the chile flakes. Reduce heat to low; cook for 10-15 minutes more (if the potlikker starts to evaporate too quickly, add a little more stock and/or coconut milk). You’re done when the greens are fully soft but not disintegrating.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning (lime, tamari, salt, chile, or hot sauce) to your liking.

Serve over brown rice and/or beans—or alongside BBQ’d chicken or ribs.

We loved these as a bed under some curried chicken thighs. You’ll want some brown rice (or crusty bread) to sop up the braising liquid.


*Tannins and fat go together like coffee and cream … or tea and milk … or, yes, red wine and steak. It’s a symbiotic, complementary, contrapuntal relationship. Fat (and protein) help break down the tannins found in plant leaves, twigs, and fruit skins—and tannins change the chemical composition of your mouth’s lubricants, giving your tastebuds more ability to “grip” your food’s flavors. Don’t you love it when there’s actual science behind our cultural habits?

For more, here’s the boss, Greg Moore.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Susan, first of all, I love your blog design! The look is perfectly fitting and easy to peruse! I grew up eating collard green soup, complete with ham hocks. It was definitely a southern thing. I always found the flavor so heavy and savory, but I’ve loved fresher preparations of collard greens. This particular preparation sounds lively and not so heavy. I love the tip on stacking several leaves together and removing the spine – genius! I always cut my basil this way, but somehow haven’t done the same with collards or kale. Cheers!!

    1. Susan says:

      Thanks, Jayme. Very sweet. There are some things I don’t like about this off-the-shelf design (for one, I wish the Search were able to be relocated up top), but in the main I’m pretty happy with it. This season I’m trying to embrace greens of all kinds. They’re not always visually pretty, but I am enjoying them in lots of sautes and salads. I’m a bit over kale, but I’ve grown quite fond of both collards and chard (and beet greens). Go figure.

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