“Almost any southerner who is a respectable cook has a recipe for collard greens”
There is history in this pot of leafy greens which is firmly rooted in the African-American communities of the deep south. Family recipes are handed down from generation to generation. Collard greens have been available for centuries but it was in the South that collard greens evolved and became part of present day southern cuisine.
Collard greens are slowly cooked producing a “low gravy” and often cornbread is dipped into the concentrated flavorful broth. If you have never enjoyed collard greens, you are missing out on something really special.
My garden became my foundation for the inspiration to learn how to prepare real southern greens. Collard greens thrive in the mild southern winters and the first frost always adds a sweetness to the leafy greens. Bending down in the soil to clip the large leafy green leaves from my plant it is understood “soul” is an essential element in the preparation of a pot of greens. There have been countless pots of collard greens over the last two years in an honest effort to present a pot of greens worthy of respect. Creating a savory broth with a slight kick is the goal. I experimented using smoked turkey wings and necks, bacon, to the traditional ham hocks. There were a few hot sauces and pepper vinegars too.
A vegetarian version of collard greens cooked slowly in a rich vegetable broth flavored with onion and garlic, sautéed in olive oil with a pat of butter with a pinch of red pepper flakes would prove to be my pot of collard greens worthy of respect.
There is no meat but there is no sacrificing of flavor here. I think the southerners would agree.
Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.
Vegetarian “Southern Style” Collard Greens
Recipe adapted from Sunny Anderson
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound collard greens, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into large chunks (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Sauté the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic, cook another minute. Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Add carrots. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes. Add tomatoes, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.