Monday, January 24, 2011

Sauteed Collard Greens and Garlic

Have you heard the new album from The Decemberists, The King is Dead? It's a lovely compilation, very free flowing and bluegrass-y instrumental, that doesn't require the same depth of thought as The Hazards of Love did, which is neither a good or bad thing... simply different. Perfect for cooking to, and especially cooking a dish fitting to the folksy music. And how much more folksy could you get than collard greens?

I love those beautiful big, bright leafy greens. Kale, chard, mustard and collard greens... bring it on. They're usually available year round, but are best between January and April, which makes them a colorful addition to any winter meal. Rich in vitamin A and C, they also contain a high amount of calcium and other antioxidents.  

So pretty and green
The difference between typical Southern collards and mine is that I don't like them braised in soups and stews nearly as much as I like them sauteed. Don't get me wrong, there is something amazing to how meltingly tender and buttery they can be when cooked in liquid, to almost a gravy. But a little garlic, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and then all thrown into a pan with some hot oil to let them crisp in a matter of minutes... it's delicious in that you really keep the integrity of the green, the slightly bitter, slightly unyielding, chewy texture with a touch of heat. It keeps rich dishes from being too overbearing, gives that summery bite of something crisp, and the luxury of having something so fresh and deeply green on your plate in the dead of winter.

Sauteed Collard Greens
6-8 medium to large leaves, washed and patted dry
2 medium cloves of garlic, sliced very thin but not minced
1 Tbl. olive oil
pinch of crushed red pepper- optional
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Take washed leaves and cut away the tough stem from the middle. Roll us the leaves like a cigar and slice into long thin strips.

2. Heat oil  at medium and add garlic and crushed red pepper. As soon as you can smell the garlic (not more than a minute), add the sliced collards. Stir to coat evenly with garlic and oil and let saute until crispy. They have a tendency to pop a little in the oil, so be careful.

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