What Are Collard Greens & Why You Should Try Them
There’s something special about Southern cooking, where cooks bake comfort into every bite. Of course, the South doesn’t have a monopoly on fried chicken, pulled pork, cornbread, grits, or collard greens. But these favorite dishes bring to mind warm Southern hospitality. And they make for the perfect addition to any family meal.
Many Southern classics have entered mainstream American cuisine — and even earned international adoration. However, Collard greens have yet to reach that level of popularity. But that might be because many people aren’t familiar with this delicious and versatile vegetable. So what are they, and why should you add them to your list of ingredients?
What Are Collard Greens?
Collard greens are leafy vegetables that belong to the brassica family. This family includes cabbage, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. You might note that these vegetables are all known for having some bitterness in their flavor profiles.
In terms of appearance and flavor, collard greens fall between cabbage and kale. This species features large leaves in a shamrock shade, with tough stems that are typically removed before cooking. The leaves are bitter when raw but less so than kale. Cooking tempers that bitterness and brings out a pleasant, earthy flavor that complements salty and smoky profiles.
Southern tradition dictates eating collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Many believe this practice brings luck and prosperity throughout the coming year.
Collard Greens Nutritional Benefits
In addition to adding complexity to a wide range of dishes, collard greens serve up a slew of nutritional benefits. These low-calorie veggies are a good source of essential nutrients, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
You probably know that calcium is essential for bone health. But you might not know that vitamin K improves calcium uptake, making this pairing of nutrients ideal for supporting strong bones. Like other leafy greens, they are also an excellent source of fiber. Fiber aids in digestion and supports a healthy gut. It may also work to reduce inflammation and balance blood sugar.
Many other nutrients in collard greens contribute to overall health. Vitamin A, for example, supports immune and organ health, while the iron is important for preventing anemia. In addition, vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage, offers incredible benefits for the whole body.
Considering the health advantages, you’ll find no shortage of reasons to add collard greens to your diet.
Best Way to Eat Them?
It’s not enough for food to be healthy; it should also taste good. You can prepare them in several ways to add appealing variety to your diet.
If you like a bitter kick in salads, they are a happy medium that falls between spinach and kale. But more often, this leafy veggie is sautéed. You can also shred it to sprinkle on tacos, create a slaw, or add to a casserole, soup, or stew. They also make a great addition to stir fry.
Whole leaves can substitute for bread or tortillas when making wraps or sandwiches. You could even blend it in fruit smoothies for extra nutrients. In short, there are plenty of options for tasty preparation.
Wan to Give ‘Em a Try? Stop By!
Because collard greens deliver bitter, earthy flavors, this vegetable works best with salty, savory meals. As a sautéed side, it pairs beautifully with a hearty pulled pork sandwich or smoky baby back ribs. It also perfectly complements other sides like creamy mac and cheese or sweet cornbread. Head to Chad’s to sample the delectable cuisine when you’re craving BBQ paired with your favorite Southern sides.