Southern Style Greens: How to Cook Collard Greens

Southern Style Greens: How to Cook Collard Greens
Page content

When most people think of collard greens, the traditional Southern recipe comes to mind – laden with bacon drippings or fatback pork, which negate the healthy benefits of this delicious member of the Brassica family. Let us examine how to cook collard greens and preserve that great Southern cooking taste without adding unhealthy fat.

Image Credit/Wikimedia Commons/GNU Free Documentation License

Cooking Collard Greens Overview and Nutrition Information

Why even bother with cleaning and cooking collards? Collard greens furnish 10 minerals and 20 vitamins, and are incredibly nutrient-dense sources of vitamin A (118% of daily values), vitamin K (880% of daily values), vitamin C, manganese, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (xanthophyll carotenoids). Because they contain glucosinolates, which are believed to neutralize carcinogenic substances, they may lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

While collards provide a healthy dose of calcium and potassium and can be beneficial in battling osteoporosis, they also furnish oxalates, which could be injurious to those suffering from gout, kidney, or gallbladder disorders.

Vegetarian Southern Style Collard Greens Tips and Techniques

While cooking and seasoning collards without the help of ham, bacon, or other meat products is challenging, it is possible. If you are avoiding pork or meat products for whatever reason, or simply wish to limit or reduce the intake of unhealthy fats, here are some healthy ways to prepare tasty tender collard greens.

  • Use flavorful seasonings like sesame oil, liquid smoke, porcini mushrooms, or smoked paprika for flavorings.
  • Boil or simmer collards in homemade vegetable, chicken, or beef broths.
  • Add ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil to add healthy fat and help tenderize the greens.
  • Serve collards with apple cider or balsamic vinegars to add flavor and tenderize the collards.

Collards can be steamed for about five minutes and served crisp, but the strong taste may not appeal to everyone. Collards are healthy additions to: soups, stews, curries, casseroles, stir fries, or as side dishes.

How to Cook Collards Southern Style

Here is a simple step by step method for preparing fool-proof tender collard greens.

Select crisp collards with small leaves – the smaller the leaf, the more tender the greens. Look for dark blue green smooth leaf varieties with no yellow or brown spots. One large bunch is sufficient for this method. The only other supplies needed are:

  • Large stockpot
  • Large skillet
  • One fourth cup ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, or organic butter
  • Two cups water, vegetable, chicken, or beef broth

Immerse the collards in enough water to cover them, and wash them gently to remove any debris. Pour out water and repeat two to three times, until water remains clear and no sand or other debris is seen. Give the collards a brisk shake; if some water clings to the leaves, it will cook away during the simmering.

  1. Remove the center stems, and chop them coarsely. Add them to a large stockpot.
  2. Roll the collard leaves loosely, slice into thin shreds with a sharp knife, and then add to the pan with the chopped stems. Add two cups of desired liquid and bring to boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the collards for twenty minutes. At the end of the simmering time, heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt one-fourth cup ghee, butter, or coconut oil.
  4. Add the collards and sauté them to reduce the moisture content and tenderize them. Serve warm with vinegar to bring out the full flavor. Some side dishes that complement collards are deviled eggs, potato salad, black-eyed peas, caramelized onions, and cornbread.

Now that you know how to cook collards, why not have some for dinner tonight and enjoy their health benefits?


The World’s Healthiest Foods, “Collard Greens,” accessed 06/26/2010

NutriStrategy, “Nutrients, Vitamins, Minerals, and Dietary Information,” accessed 06/26/2010