Happy New Year wfi-ers

this post is from my friend Rashid Nuri in Atlanta at Truly Living Well–enjoy and eat greens!  my deepest new years blessings to you all.


Collard Greens for the New Year!!
Collard greens are vegetables that are members of the cabbage family, but are also close relatives to kale. Kale and collards are similar in many respects, differing in little more than the forms of their leaves. They are, in effect, primitive cabbages that have been retained through thousands of years. The original “cabbage” was undoubtedly a nonheading kind with a prominent stalk or stem.  The kales and collards are not far removed from it.  “Collards” is a corruption of coleworts or colewyrts, Anglo-Saxon terms literally meaning “cabbage plants.”

Collard greens date back to prehistoric times, and are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. The cabbage-like plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean or to Asia Minor. They have been in cultivation for so long, and have been so shifted about by prehistoric traders and migrating tribes, that it is not certain which of those two regions are the origin of the species. More highly developed forms, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and head cabbage have been produced in the last two thousand years or so. The kales and collards have persisted, although primitive, because of their merits as garden vegetables. Kale and collards are among the easiest of all vegetables to grow. They are biennials, putting up their flower or seed stalks in the spring of their second season of growth. The first mention of collard greens in the United States dates back to the late 17th century. Collards are an integral food in traditional southern American cuisine.

The Southern style of cooking of greens came with the arrival of African slaves to the southern colonies and the need to satisfy their hunger and provide food for their families. Though greens did not originate in Africa, the habit of eating greens that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking the juices from the greens (known as “pot likker”) is of African origin. The slaves of the plantations were given the leftover food from the plantation kitchen. Some of this food consisted of the tops of turnips and other greens. Forced to create meals from these leftovers, they created the famous southern greens. The slave diet began to evolve and spread when slaves entered the plantation houses as cooks. Their African dishes, using the foods available in the region they lived in, began to evolve into present-day Southern cooking.

My recipe for collard greens is quite simple. Sauté onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add seasoning, like Spike or other seasoning salt, some cayenne pepper and let .them caramelize (Most southern collard green recipes call for ham or smoked turkey. I don’t use either and still make a tasty pot of greens.) Often, I mix them with other greens that we grow, but collards by themselves are quite delicious.

Take the collard greens and separate the fresh leaves. Rinse each leaf individually under cold running water. After you rinse the collard greens thoroughly, stack several leaves on top of each other. Roll these leaves together. Then slice the leaves into thin strips using a cutting board and large knife. Rolling the greens together speeds up the process as you are slicing through several leaves at once. Stir the cut greens into the pot of onions and garlic, add a small amount of water to keep the greens from sticking, and cook until tender. Our greens take about 30 -40 minutes. Voile!! A fabulous meal.

Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, folate, dietary fiber, and calcium. In addition, collard greens are a very good source of potassium, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6, and a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, vitamin B5, niacin, zinc, phosphorous, and iron, Vitamin E, magnesium and pantothenic acid, and a good source of protein, naicin, thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, iron omega 3 fatty acids, and selenium.  A great food.

Although collard greens can be grown year around, they are most popularly eaten during the cooler weather. Many southerners won’t eat any collard greens until they have been through the first frost of the season thinking they will be more tender.  Interestingly, there is some fact to support this folk lore. When collard greens freeze, water crystals enter the plant cells and break the cellulose walls, thus tenderizing the plant. The greens grown by Truly Living Well are already tender, so they can be eaten at anytime with great gusto.

Peas n carrots


About tessa eliza thraves

a local food and sustainable energy freak, working for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems on community and youth Food System projects across the state. www.cefs.ncsu.edu www.ncfoodcorps.org ncfoodyouth.wordpress.com

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