Collards, or collard greens, are a deep-green leafy vegetable that is now easily obtainable in supermarkets even in places like Denver. It is an "ethnic" food, common in the South, but until recently very unusual in the North. Collards are inexpensive and easy to prepare. This is my recipe, which is definitely not ethnic, but may serve until you find better. All the comments refer to a 100g portion, a little less than 4 oz. or 1/4 lb, which is a reasonable amount for a side vegetable. Choose a bunch with deep-green leaves and little yellow discoloration; the size of leaves makes little difference.

Collards may be compared to spinach, and provide much the same nutrition, but are quite distinct, and would not be confused with one another. Spinach, Swiss Chard or beet greens are probably more delicate, but collards are by no means to be despised, and any spinach-lover will accept them readily. To prepare, wash in cold water and tear the leaves into pieces about 4 inches (100 mm) square. I cut off the stalks, but they are also edible. Cut up a slice of bacon per pound of collards with scissors into small squares, and mix with the leaves. Add water to cover, and simmer until done, which requires about 20 minutes here in Denver; collards do not cook anywhere near as quickly as spinach, and you may have to boil them longer until they are to your taste. They do become tender when properly cooked, so do not be fooled. They seem to be better after spending a night in the refrigerator, and keep well. They can be eaten without butter when bacon is present.

Collards provide twice the protein and carbohydrates as a similar amount of spinach, and so are 50 Cal. per serving, instead of 25. A little must be added for the bacon, but still collards are a low-calorie dish. Vitamin A is a little higher in collards than in spinach, so collards are a good source of it. A serving of collards contains 249 mg of calcium which is accessible, in contrast to spinach where oxalic acid makes the smaller amount of calcium inaccessible. Collards are a good source of calcium. Collards contain seven times as much ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) than spinach, and 2 to 10 times as much of the other common vitamins. The iron content of collards is the same as that of spinach. Collards appear to be a very healthy vegetable indeed!

Ethnic recipes often used mixed greens, with turnip and other greens included, and various methods of seasoning. Greens are always a delicious and healthy dish, that should be widely accepted. Seasoned collards are even available canned, under the Sylvia's Restaurant brand, at Sylvia's Soul Food

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 13 July 2003
Last revised