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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Seasonal Snippet: Collards & Nutty Pate Wrap

Seasonal Snippet: Collards & Nutty Pate Wrap

Contributed by Katy Morris; Photos- Liz Rueven

Collard greens are a staple in southern cuisine, but vegetarians and kosher keepers have generally steered clear of them since they have traditionally been paired with ingredients we don’t eat. Luckily, these nutritious greens have made their way nationwide and into lots of creative vegan and vegetarian dishes (see our vegan and gluten-free Curry Collard Wrap, below).  Bursting with flavor and impressively versatile,  we love collard greens!

Give me the basics.

 Collard greens (you can also just call them collards) are part of the cabbage family and are best known for their sturdy, vibrantly green leaves that boast a mildly bitter, earthy, and slightly smoky flavor. They are also super nutritious (very high in vitamins C and K and key minerals like fiber and iron) and versatile (boil ‘em, sauté em, heck – even use them as wraps like below).

 

When are collards in season?

You will be able to find collards throughout the year, especially in the south, but they are at their best around January through April. Like other hardy greens (winter kale!) they are sweeter when growing in cooler temperatures.

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What should I look for when selecting?

Smooth, sturdy, dark green leaves without limp or yellowing spots are the ones to get. Keep in mind that smaller leaves will be more tender and mild tasting than larger ones. Also, remember when shopping that given collards’ high water content, they will shrink considerably when cooked; about two large bunches of leaves should be good for a side dish for about four people.

 

Storage tips?

To store, simply pop in a plastic bag and put them in your fridge before washing. They’ll be good for up to 5-6 days.

 

How do I prepare them?

Collards can be gritty so wash them well. First, chop off the roots and submerge the leaves in a large bowl of cold water. Swish and rinse a couple of times in fresh water to make sure you get the cleanest greens.

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When cooking collards, many people like to remove the bitter, tough stems, but this is really a matter of preference. They will take longer to cook if you decide to leave them in tact, resulting in a chewier pile o’ greens.

To get rid of the stems, simply fold the washed leaf in half inward and cut along the side the stem to easily remove them. Once you de-stem them, stack them and fold again to cut into 2-4 inch pieces.

For smaller “ribbons”, try rolling them into small, tight wraps and slice crosswise. You want thicker ribbons if you are going to braise them and small, thinner ones for tossing them in soups or stews.

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How to cook?

The most popular ways to cook collards are to steam, sauté, braise or boil them. In general, you can easily substitute them for any recipe that traditionally calls for kale or other cabbage-like greens. They pair particularly well with bold flavors like garlic and chili pepper flakes.

 

Keep in mind that collards are cruciferous vegetables, just like broccoli and cauliflower. If you overcook them they will give off an unpleasant sulfuric smell and lose a lot of their precious nutritional value. To reduce the smell, first avoid cooking with aluminum or copper pots or pans. Try sautéing with chopped garlic, olive oil and white wine for a simple yet tasty side dish. Use medium-heat and be sure to cook them evenly. To allow them to cook thoroughly yet avoid too strong of a smell, turn down the heat, cover and allow to simmer until just wilted.

 Or…Heck, don’t even cook them at all!

The Stand- Curried almond pate with Gilbertie's pea shoots and red peppers

We reached out to a local CT. chef who knows a thing or two about simple, scrumptious, veggie-loaded fare. Thank you to Carissa Dellicicchi of the STAND for this delish recipe! If you’re in our neck of the CT. woods, check out The Stand in Fairfield or their spanking new location just one block from the Maritime Center (fun for the kiddos) in South Norwalk, CT.

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