Vegetarian Collard Greens

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You may think that the title “vegetarian collard greens” is redundant. Collards are vegetables, after all, so why call them “vegetarian”? Well, because where I live (and love to live, I might add), most collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and cabbage leaves are cooked with some kind of pork product. It might be a ham hock or fat back (side meat) or bacon, but it is usually there. And it is mighty delicious. Not only does the meat season the greens, the fat softens the leaves into delicate, tender loveliness. It’s great stuff, I tell you.

I found myself wondering if I could make collard greens that are really, really good, but don’t include the meat. We had some beautiful collard greens in the garden just begging to be eaten, so I gave it a shot. I used a combination of olive oil and toasted sesame oil in place of the jowl bacon we usually use. As it turns out, collard greens can be just as delicious without the meat as with it. My husband, Tom, backs me up on that!

Here is the recipe we created. We served the greens with our chili dusted salmon and I have to say it was all amazingly, plate-licking good. I have learned a lot this week!

Vegetarian Collard Greens (makes 6 servings)

  • 2 bunches baby collards or 1 bunch of large leaf collards
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  1. Wash collard greens well in cold water to remove any sand or dirt.
  2. Fold leaves in half lengthwise and cut the thick stem off the leaves.
  3. Take the leaves and roll them into what looks like a green Ho-Ho (for photos see HERE). Cut leaves into thin strips, about 1/2″ wide. This will give you long ribbons of greens.
  4. In a large stock pot, heat the oils over medium/high heat. Add the greens. Toss well to coat all the ribbons with oil. Cook and toss for about 2 minutes. Taste and add salt if desired.
  5. Add water to the pot, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check periodically to make sure the pot is not dry. Add more water if you need it. The pot should have some “pot likker” at the bottom, but should not be water-logged.
  6. Serve immediately.

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