A COLLARD GREENS FEAST
Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of collard greens because I thought they were too bitter. It wasn’t until I’ve tried my friend’s collard greens dish at a recent potluck that I realized it’s all about how you prepare them. Lucky me, another friend at the potluck gave me fresh collard greens as a gift (the potluck theme was Southern comfort food so collard greens was high on the menu).
After doing some research and several practice in the kitchen, I’ve found five delicious ways to prepare and cook collard greens.
It all starts from this leaf:
1. BEER BATTERED COLLARD GREENS
How could you go wrong with adding a bit of fat? Of course the vegan and healthy kind, but fat nonetheless, which makes anything including collard greens irresistibly delicious.
I’ve adopted the recipe from Epicurious but I used collard greens instead of kale and soy flour instead of all purpose flour. I also didn’t spare any time to let the batter stand. Still my battered greens came out nice and crispy.
- In a mixing bowl, combine and whisk flour, beer, water, and salt.
- Heat a deep skillet or pan over high heat and pour about an inch of the oil. Heat for about three minutes. Test if the oil is ready by frying a bit of the batter. The batter should fry and turn brown easily.
- Dip the collard greens in the batter, coating each side of the leaves and fry in the skillet until the batter turns golden.
- Using tongs, transfer the greens to a drying rack.
- Season with sea salt (optional).
2. CITRUS COLLARDS WITH RAISINS
I’ve adopted the recipe from Bryant Terry’s cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen. This collard greens recipe is not bitter at all. In fact, it’s somewhat sweet and very refreshing. I changed it up a bit by blending the raisins into a puree as part of the dressing, only because Chris doesn’t like to eat raisins. I skipped using garlic and oil. I used San Marzano tomato tidbits as garnish (my first time trying San Marzano tomatoes, yum!)
- 3-4 pieces collard greens, stems removed
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (you may also use store bought orange juice, but freshly squeezed would be preferable)
- sprinkle of raisins (I pureed mine with the orange juice)
- sprinkle of salt
- Stack the collard leaves, roll them like a cigar and cut them into wide strips.
- Put the leaves into a boiling pot of salted water and cook until the leaves have softened.
- Transfer the leaves to a bowl of cold water with ice (to stop the leaves from cooking). Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Puree the orange juice and raisins into desired consistency. Add more orange juice or raisins to taste. Pour the dressing to the greens and toss to evenly distribute.
- Top with fresh tomatoes as garnish (optional).
3. CREAM OF MUSHROOM AND COLLARDS
I have always loved cream of mushroom soup ever since I was a kid. The savory creaminess of this soup leaves me warm and cozy inside, a definite comfort food. Naturally, I thought of this dish when brainstorming for recipes. At first I was afraid the collard greens may make the soup taste a bit too earthy and bitter (here I go again with my loathe of bitterness). Much to my pleasant surprise, the greens was the perfect compliment to this soup. Final verdict: not bitter but rather savory and velvety rich.
- 2-3 tablespoons. cooking oil (I used grapeseed oil)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup of crimini mushrooms, washed
- 1-2 pieces collard greens
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup raw almonds (or raw cashew nuts, soaked overnight)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used Hepp’s smoked Alderwood salt)
- drizzle of olive oil (optional)
- Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add oil.
- Add the garlic and fry until they’re golden.
- Add the onions and cook until they’re translucent.
- Add the mushrooms and saute for another five minutes. (you may set aside few pieces of sauteed mushrooms for garnish or toppings later)
- Using a high speed blender, puree the saute with collard greens, water, almonds and salt.
- Add more salt to taste.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle olive oil on top.
- Add roasted vegetables on top (or you could use the mushrooms you’ve set aside).
4. FRIED TOFU IN CREAM OF MUSHROOMS AND COLLARDS
Taking it one step further from the soup recipe is the Fried Tofu in Cream of Mushroom and Collard Greens. This was Chris’ idea and a brilliant one. Unlike the soup, this dish is great as main entree and best enjoyed with rice. Also, unlike the soup, this adds texture to every bite. All you have to do is fry the tofu and mix in the cream.
I’m not sure if the photo above looks appetizing but personally, looking at it reminds me of the wonderful flavor and texture I enjoyed. I highly recommend you try this recipe as well so you could find out for yourself.
- See above recipe
- block of tofu
- See above recipe for the sauce.
- Using a medium pan or skillet (I used a cast iron pan), pour the cooking oil (I used grapeseed oil) and heat it for about 2-3 minutes over high heat. Make sure you dry the tofu as much as possible before frying them. You may do so by using paper towels or a kitchen cloth and patting the moisture out of the tofu. When frying, don’t overcrowd the pan. Just fill the pan with tofu half way.
- Fry all sides of the tofu until they’re golden brown. Turn off the heat. Add the cream and mix well.
- Transfer to a plate and serve with a side of rice.
5. COLLARD GREENS SUSHI
This recipe is probably the most elaborate out of all five but it’s also the most fun to make. Collard greens make a fun wrap because of their wide and sturdy leaves. What goes inside the wrap is up to you. Mine were roasted eggplant, shiitake mushroom, marinated tomatoes, roasted nori, and sushi rice. I was going for a Japanese sushi flair with the fillings inspired by my favorite vegan sushi rolls.
- 2-3 collard greens leaves (pick the ones that are wide and don’t have tears or holes)
- 1 cup sushi rice (see recipe below)
- 3-5 pieces of nori seaweed
- a handful of rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms (I soaked the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for at least 10 minutes)
- 1 eggplant, cut into chunks, roasted or fried
- 2 tomatoes, sliced (like a sashimi), seeds removed, marinated in flaxseed oil and salt
Other options for filling:
- sweet potatoes
- 1 cup steamed Japanese rice
- 1/8 cup rice vinegar
- 1/8 cup evaporated sugar (or vegan sugar of choice)
In a bowl, mix all three ingredients. Adjust the amount of vinegar and sugar to your liking.
- On a flat, clean surface, place a collard greens leaf.
- Spread a thin layer of rice on the leaf (make sure it’s only a thin layer otherwise you’ll have a hard time rolling).
- Arrange your filling on a line on the lower bottom of the leaf (make sure you’re using only few pieces of each ingredient).
- Gently lift the lower end of the leaf and gently but tightly roll up until you’ve reached the other end of the leaf. (It also helps that you press down gently as you roll up).
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Cut into desired width using a sharp and wet knife. (Mine was dull so as you could see my rolls weren’t as perfectly cut and the filling got moved around a bit)
- The rolls are best enjoyed with soy sauce dipping and wasabi and ginger on the side.
I hope you found this post useful. I believe collard greens are in season here in the US so feel free to take advantage of the low prices at the farmers market. If you don’t live in the US or don’t have access to collard greens, any of your favorite leaf vegetable would do (wide ones for the sushi recipe).
Do you have a collard greens recipe? Please feel free to share! I’d love to hear your feedback about this wonderful vegetable I’m beginning to enjoy in more ways than one.