Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Color Are Your Greens?

[Did you know that I started this post over two weeks ago, started writing it while my greens were on the stove and overcooked my greens, and didn't look at my photos until just today... only to discover that not a single shot turned out? Yes. I am an epic blogger. Oh well.]

Have you had collard greens? Do you remember, by any chance... what color they were?

It seems like a silly question, I know, and I wish it were. But bear with me here for a sec - were they by any chance... kinda brown?

I'm a fan of some traditional recipes. I believe that, when it comes to food, traditions are made for a reason, and I've given traditional collard greens a try several times. And I'm tired of eating collard browns. So here, I'll just go ahead and say it:

You're probably cooking your greens wrong.

I'm a firm believer, with some exceptions, that vegetables should be brighter in color when you serve them than they were raw, and traditional recipes for collards have you cook your greens for 45, 60 minutes - I've seen up to two hours. They're not going to be green anymore. I'm skeptical they will be food. You'll also sacrifice significant Vitamin C content, as it's not especially heat stable (not that most Americans have trouble getting enough C).

A few years ago, I had a bunch of greens in the fridge and wanted them for lunch. Knowing that I didn't particularly care for the traditional long-cooked style, I started hunting for a new approach. I'm not sure exactly what search terms I used to led me to this Epicurious recipe, but I do know that I am forever grateful to them. I basically haven't cooked hardy greens any other way since then, and this is essentially still the exact recipe I use, though I sometimes use thinly sliced onions instead of garlic, often add crushed red pepper, and always, always finish with a splash of lemon. The one caveat I'll add is that the cooking time does vary widely. I've had tender, smaller leaves that cooked up in 3-4 minutes, but it's not always the case. The greens I was cooking for this post were larger than some pets I've had, and they needed nearly ten minutes to get past that "eating roughage" texture. Either way, though, ten minutes beats an hour or more, and you end up with a quick dish that's more attractive and healthier. If that ain't a trifecta, I don't know what is.

As I said, my photos turned out terribly, but contrasting two Google image searches tells all the story you need: Brazilian collard greens vs. collard greens.

I guess this one photo didn't turn out too badly, so I'll toss it in here just to break up the text.

Collard Greens

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