If you read any food magazines or watch the food shows, especially the competition ones, you might have noticed a lot of kale bashing going on.
Personally I loved kale before it was ‘in’ to love kale. In fact I’ve always loved all greens. Being a Southern girl I grew up on collards and mustard greens, slow cooked with ham hocks and served with vinegar, it was a staple at my nana’s. They were soft, silky, peppery and, yes, woefully overcooked by today’s standards. Don’t misunderstand, I still love my extra-soft greens, smokey with ham flavor, cooked to a flat, dark green and topped with sherry vinegar and crispy bacon. In the past couple of years, once I started participating in a CSA, I started treating those fresh-from-down-the-road greens with a much lighter hand.
I say this a lot and it bears repeating over and over again until you pay attention. Eat LOCAL!! You simply have no idea the difference in taste of something shipped across the country versus just down the street. You make think those greens from the supermarket are fresh and they are, but they are not flavorful. Again this is something you may not notice until you have tasted local produce, eggs and meat!
Now that I’ve said all that, I don’t want you to stop buying all of the green food you can find at the grocery store each week, I just encourage you to seek out local food whenever you can and please, please join a CSA for this spring-summer or fall. In fact the recipe below came about because my Kroger was out of kale, but had loads of collards. So instead of bailing on the recipe I was craving, I simply gave the collards the same treatment I was planning for the kale and ended up with something so wonderful and satisfying.
Collards with Beans and Bacon
4 slices uncured bacon, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
large bunch of collards, tough stems removed
1/3 cup water or chicken broth
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
Heat large stock pot over med-high heat. Add diced bacon, reduce heat to med, and cook until bacon is crisp.
Add greens, garlic, water and salt. Partially cover and cook 10-15 minutes, until greens are soft, but still bright green.
Add beans, lemon juice and more salt as needed. Cook 5 minutes more.
The greens will cook down a lot, so stuff the stock pot to overflowing and then add more as they cook down if you want to. I can eat this on its own as a meal, but of course it is a great accompaniment to steak, chicken, pork chops…