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Citrus Collards

I think the best new item I've planted in my garden in recent years is collards. They are at their best starting with the super-hot weather of late summer, but last well into the winter season. Like chard, they are less attractive to insect pests during cooler weather. Although they do attract white fly and cabbage worms, they seem easy to control. They are incredibly productive and have structure that means you get much more edible food from the substance of the harvest. That does however mean preparation is a bit different that many other greens.

Traditional recipes for collards call for boiling them until they're very tender. I've tried a number of these dishes, but braised greens aren't really my favorite style. I prefer quickly cooking. As with bitter greens (mustard, endive), these benefit from blanching before sautéing. These are fibrous and tough, so to prepare, add this step: 1) remove the stems and discard (you can slice them very finely and cook them too - they'll need more cooking time); 2) stack the leaves and slice into thin strips; 3) blanch for 5 minutes in boiling water; 4) remove and rinse in cold water - drain well pressing out extra moisture. Chill or proceed with your recipe.

  1. Collards - 5-8 cups prepared as above
  2. Zest and juice from 1 orange
  3. 1 large clove garlic, grated or minced
  4. Olive oil
  5. Kosher or sea salt to taste
  1. Prepare collards as described above or follow shortcut method (below)
  2. Combine orange zest, juice, salt and garlic in a small bowl
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet
  4. When hot, add blanched collards and stir well to coat with oil
  5. Cook until collards have wilted - taste to test for tenderness - this should be to your taste
  6. Stir in orange mixture, stir well and cook a minute or so
  7. Add salt to taste

Frankly, like most greens, this is delicious hot or at room temperature.

Shortcut method: If you don't want to do the blanching ahead, you can simply steam the collards in the skillet you'll finish in. Add about 1/2 cup water to the skillet and heat. Add cut collards and cook, stirring until they're very wilted and water has evaporated. Test for doneness - they should be (tender but not mushy). Pour off any residual water and add oil to the hot collards. Stir to coat greens, then add orange mixture. Cook a minute or so more.

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