No other veggie is finer than collard greens

features@beaufortgazette.comNovember 9, 2011 

  • Root Veggie Chowder with Collard Ribbons

    3 tablespoons orange juice

    1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

    2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

    4 ounces collard greens (1/2 small bunch)

    5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

    3 cups (14 ounces) medium-diced onions

    1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

    3/4 teaspoon salt

    2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (12 ounces), peeled and diced (1 3/4 cups)

    1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice (2 1/2 cups)

    1/2 large rutabaga (12 ounces) peeled and cut into medium dice (2 1/3 cups)

    Combine orange juice, maple syrup and vinegar in glass measuring cup. Set aside. Remove stems from collard leaves by holding stem with one hand and ripping leaf off each stem with other hand. Stack 5 or 6 leaves at a time, roll up lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons. Chop ribbons into 2- to 3-inch length. Set aside.

    Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; season with salt, if desired. Cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes. Uncover, and cook 15 minutes more, or until onions are lightly golden. Add ginger and cook 30 seconds. Add 7 cups water and salt, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes; season with salt, if desired. Cover 6 to 8 minutes or until potatoes are well-browned on at least 2 sides, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl.

    Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Add carrots, cook 6 to 8 minutes or until well-browned on at least 2 sides. Transfer to bowl with potatoes.

    Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Add rutabaga, cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until well-browned on at least 2 sides, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl with potatoes.

    Add vegetables to onion broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 9 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add collard greens; cook 5 minutes. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice mixture.

    Collard Soup

    Makes: 10 to 12 servings

    1 bunch collard greens

    4 slices bacon

    3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

    1/2 cup chopped onion

    1 green pepper, sliced

    1 chicken bouillon cube

    1 cup boiling water

    Half-and-half or milk

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Check leaves or greens carefully, remove pulpy stems and discolored spots or leaves. Wash thoroughly in several changes of warm water; drain. Cut greens crosswise in narrow strips.

    Cook bacon in butter in a large saucepan; drain and crumble. Set aside.

    Saute onion and green pepper in bacon drippings 2 minutes. Dissolve bouillon in water; add to sauteed vegetables with greens. Cover and simmer until greens are tender. Drain well.

    To every 2 cups cooked greens, add 2 cups half-and-half. Puree in electric blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat thoroughly and sprinkle with bacon.

    Collard Greens Quiche

    Makes: 8 servings

    1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

    4 large eggs, at room temperature

    1 cup half and half

    1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

    1/3 cup finely chopped onion

    1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

    2 cups chopped cooked fresh, frozen or leftover collard greens, squeezed dry

    1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

    1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (optional)

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie crust about 8 minutes; set aside. In large bowl, lightly beat eggs, half and half, salt (if desired), pepper, oregano, and onion; set aside. Onto bottom of pie crust sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese. Add greens, mushrooms and bell pepper.

    Pour egg and vegetable mixture into crust; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand about 10 minutes before slicing to allow filling to completely set.

Collard greens grow throughout the Lowcountry. This is the season where you can find farmers with their wares on a truck parked by the side of the road or at farmers markets. You also can visit friends who grow this green vegetable for a hobby.

There are few things that taste better than collards cooked Lowcountry style with ham hocks and neck bones, served over rice and eaten with cornbread.

You do not have to guess if collards have been cooked; just walk inside the kitchen and get a whiff of the odor for which collards are famous. You will enjoy the taste.

Collard greens are best when prepared just after the first frost, though they can be eaten year-round. They should always be harvested before the dew dries.

When being prepared, they are "chopped," "looked" and then "cooked." That is, they are cut at the base of the stalk, searched for worms and then cooked until tender on a low boil, usually with fatback, smoked turkey, smoked neck bones or olive oil.

There is an art to preparing greens. The better prepared, the better the cook and the better the taste. Greens have to be rolled in bunches of five to six leaves, held tightly so no pieces will escape the knife. They must be cut into thin slices. They should be cooked in a pot with enough water to cover them and simmer until well cooked and the water is reduced. Greens are usually served with hot pepper, garlic and vinegar.

Potlikker, the juice left in the pot after the greens are gone, is a Southern version of nectar from the gods. It's valued both as a delicacy and for its alleged aphrodisiacal powers.

Collard greens are a good source of vitamins A, B-6, and C as well as calcium, iron and niacin. Greens are the official state vegetable of the Palmetto State, and no other vegetable could be finer in South Carolina.

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at

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