Time for Collard Greens!

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Chill is in the air and that means our first frost, which means it is now time to pick, eat and cook collard greens! Most of us will have some collards with a little ham seasoning on Thanksgiving Day, but why wait? Collards are good for you and actually quite versatile!!

Greens are highly nutritious foods that offer a variety of health benefits, just by eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, especially leafy greens, you reduce the chance of heart attack or stroke by 30%.

Collard greens contain 771 micrograms of vitamin A and 34.6 milligrams of vitamin C per 1-cup serving. These antioxidants help to lower the risk of oxidative stress on your cells, which is cell damage that can occur when your nutrient intake is low and when toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants enter your body.

Collard greens contain 5 grams of fiber per cup and can support the health of your digestive system when consumed regularly. They also provide a healthy amount of vitamins A and C, serving to boost your immune system and provide healthful antioxidants.

Chop collard greens into small, even pieces to ensure that they cook evenly. Steam collards for 10 minutes or less to retain their nutrients and season them with peppers, chopped onions, and your favorite herbs and spices. But…if you feel adventurous give these recipes a try!

Creamed Collards

(Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit)

Ingredients
2 large bunches collard greens (about 1 1/2 lb.), center stems removed and leaves cut into ½-inch strips
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup ⅓-inch (about 6 ounces) thick-cut smoked bacon
Unsalted butter (if needed)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Blanch greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green and beginning to soften, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Squeeze dry.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5–7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain; set aside.
  3. Drain all but 3 Tbsp. bacon drippings from pot, adding butter if needed to measure 3 Tbsp. Add onions; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add flour and paprika; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream; bring to a boil, whisking often. Stir in greens; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until greens are tender and sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer creamed greens to a serving dish; garnish with reserved bacon.

Collard Slaw

Ingredients
12 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
12 tsp. celery seed
18 tsp. dry mustard
12 small head green cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp. minced parsley
6 leaves collard greens, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
12 small onion, coarsely grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Whisk vinegar, sugar, oil, celery seeds, and mustard in a large bowl; add parsley, collards, carrot, onion, salt, and pepper and mix well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Collard Dip

Use collard greens for an appetizer in this creamy dip!

Ingredients
2 slices of bacon
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium red pepper, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 pound fresh collard greens, trimmed and coarsely chopped (6 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
18-ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 ounces reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
1/2cup light sour cream
 Thin breadsticks or vegetable dippers, such as sweet pepper strips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 12-inch skillet cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towel. Remove and discard all but 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings from skillet. Add onion and sweet pepper to skillet. Cook 5 minutes over medium heat or until vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally. Add collard greens and garlic; cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  2. Add cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and Cajun seasoning to the collard mixture, stirring until combined. If desired, trim fatty part from bacon and discard. Crumble remaining bacon and add to collard mixture. Spread mixture in a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes or until warmed through. Serve with vegetable dippers or breadsticks.

Serves 12, each 1/4 cup serving contains:  Calories 104, Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 23 mg, Carbohydrates 5 g, Protein 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Sodium 208 mg.

Spring Rolls with Collard Greens and Chicken

(Lots of work and ingredients, but worth it!)

Ingredients
10 collard leaves (about 8 ounces)
½ cup rice vinegar
3½ cups water, divided
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
¼ cup smooth natural peanut butter
¼ cup reduced-sodium tamari
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 green onions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 ounces thin rice noodles or rice sticks
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 cup grated beet
1 cup grated carrot
¾ cup fresh basil leaves
¾ cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Set a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Lay a collard green flat, with the thicker part of the stem that runs down the middle of the leaf facing up and the shiny, bright green side down. Using a sharp knife, shave off the thick stem so it’s almost flush with the leaf. Trim any of the remaining stems from the base of the leaf, reserving all shaved and trimmed pieces. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Cut all the stem pieces into 2- to 3-inch lengths.
  2. Cook the leaves in the boiling water in 3 batches until soft but still pliable, 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to the ice water until cool. Drain and pat dry.
  3. Bring vinegar, ½ cup water, and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the collard stems and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the stems from the pickling liquid and set aside.
  4. Transfer ¼ cup of the pickling liquid to a small bowl (discard the remaining liquid). Whisk in peanut butter, tamari, and garlic. Set aside.
  5. Combine the remaining 3 cups water, green onions, and ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board. Shred and season with salt.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, remove the solids from the chicken-poaching liquid and discard. Return the liquid to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
  7. To assemble spring rolls: Lay a collard leaf on a clean cutting board. Place 2 tablespoons chicken in the center and top with about 1 tablespoon each of the noodles, beet, carrot, basil, mint and pickled stems. Fold both sides of the leaf over the filling and, starting with the open end closest to you, roll into a tight cylinder. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling. Brush the rolls with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with the reserved peanut sauce.

Serves 5, each serving contains:  Calories 325, Fat 15 g, Cholesterol 50 mg, Carbohydrates 22 g, Protein 25 g, Fiber 4 g, Sodium 768 mg.