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Collards are leafy green vegetables that belong to the same family that includes cabbage, kale and broccoli. While they share the same botanical name as kale, Brassica oleracea, and some resemblance, they have their own distinctive qualities. Like kale, collards are one of the non-head forming members of the Brassica family. Collards' unique appearance features dark blue green leaves that are smooth in texture and relatively broad. They lack the frilled edges that are so distinctive to their cousin kale. The taste of collards can be described as pleasantly green and bitter.
Cut the large leaves (collard greens) in pieces. Blanching can be done by boiling or steaming. Put the leaves in a wire basket, submerge them completely in the boiling water, cover with a lid, and blanch for 3-4 minutes. To blanch by steaming, put the vegetables in a steamer basket and suspend it above an inch or two of boiling water. Cover the pot, and begin timing(3-4 minutes) as soon as steam starts to escape from under the lid. With either method, shake the basket a couple of times to ensure that all vegetable surfaces are exposed to the heat. After the allotted time, remove the basket, and plunge the vegetables into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, remove them, drain thoroughly and add to your recipe.
Collard greens should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Put the washed leaves on a chopping board and chop them in small 1-2 inch sized pieces.
The leaves can be shredded coarsely in a shredded or manually, using a sharp knife. Cut the greens in thin slices and then break up the pieces in shreds using fingers. Shredded collard is used as a garnish , in coleslaws or merely to reduce the cooking time.
How to select
Remove the leaves from the stalks and tear them roughly with your hands in small pieces. The torn collards are usually used for blanching or as abase for salad basket.
Look for collard greens that have firm, unwilted leaves that are vividly deep green in color with no signs of yellowing or browning. Leaves that are smaller in size will be more tender and have a milder flavor. They should be displayed in a chilled section in the refrigerator case to prevent them from wilting and becoming bitter. Culinary Uses
· Collard greens are a staple vegetable of American cuisine and soul food. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens in "mixed greens".
· Drizzle cooked collard greens with olive oil and lemon juice.
· Serve steamed collard greens with black-eyed peas and brown rice for a Southern inspired meal.
· Use lightly steamed, cooled and chopped collard greens as a filling in your sushi vegetable rolls.
· Healthy sauté collard greens with tofu, garlic and crushed chili peppers for a meal that will definitely add spice to your life.How to store
Store unwashed collard greens in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. They should be placed in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for three to five days, but the sooner they are eaten, the less bitter they will be.Health benefits
· Collard greens are an excellent source of folate and a very good source of vitamin B6, both of which are needed to keep levels of homocysteine, a potentially dangerous molecule, and low.
· Widely considered to be healthy foods, collards are good sources of vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and sulforaphane. Roughly a quarter pound (approx. 100 g) of cooked collards contains 46 calories
· Collard grrens are rich in calcium, iron, zinc and Vitamin A
· In addition, collard greens are a very good source of riboflavin, another important B vitamin for cardiovascular health since it is necessary for the proper functioning of B6.