"Are you sure this is safe for human consumption?", he said with a concerned look on his face. I had just placed a beautiful plate of braised kale with carrots and garlic in front of my new boyfriend. "Yes, Gray. Humans can eat all sorts of leafy greens. Mustard greens, bok choy, collards, kale. They are all delicious and really good for you." "I'm not sure," he wavered. "The only time I ever bought kale was to feed my pet iguana, Spud!"
And so goes the American relationship with greens. They are for garnish or iguana food, certainly not for the pristine palates of humans! In fact it is rare for anything green to cross most people's plates on a weekly basis, let alone daily (and no, parsley doesn't count). In my experience those who say they don't like greens just haven't had them prepared correctly. For example, I always thought I hated asparagus because my grandmother boiled it to grey mush. Yet there is nothing more divine in late spring than asparagus on the grill with a punch of lemon and Parmesan. OMG! We must all remember it's not the green we detest, but what's been done to it.
Gray now devours any green I put in front of him and loves every bite. (Or so he tells me.) So, what's my greens secret?...I NEVER steam or boil them. Alright, let me rephrase. I never serve vegetables prepared plain without any sort of aromatic or fat. Would you just boil meat and serve it up? I hope not. Greens, like any other whole food, need a little help. Aromatics (garlic, onion, shallots) bring out the greens' innate sweetness while fat rounds out the flavor. Steamed or blanched is fine, just be sure to top the vegetables with a nice vinaigrette, pesto, or fruity olive oil.
Most of my clients, particularly women, look to salads for their vegetable intake. While salad is good, it only gets you half way there. To really get all the vitamins and minerals you need, you've got to go darker and leafier. Try branching out from spinach and romaine lettuce and pick up a gorgeous bunch of kale or collard greens. These foods are not only delicious but also loaded with fiber to help move out all that excess holiday food ;)
This is a wonderful anytime dish and would even go nicely on your holiday table. What, you weren't going to serve anything green at your holiday festivities? Well, now you are. I also like to make extra and scramble it up with eggs in the morning.
Coriander Collard Greens with Sweet Potatoes
** FYI- Collards can be a bit bitter. If you are sensitive to this flavor, try the recipe with kale instead.
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or organic butter
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 cup water, divided
sea salt to taste
3-4 cups collard greens, washed and finely chopped (kale or swiss chard work well too)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes, until onions become translucent. Toss in the cubed sweet potatoes and coriander and stir until evenly coated. Add half the water to the pan and cover, allowing the potatoes to quickly soften, 7-8 minutes. (Add more water if necessary.) While the potatoes are cooking, cut the collards. Roll the greens into long cigars and chop into thin strips from one end to the other. Cut the strips in half for even cooking.
When the potatoes have softened, remove the lid and add the collard greens and cilantro. Mix thoroughly and add another quick pinch of salt and the remaining water. Return the lid to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Let the saute cook for another 8 minutes or until the collards are dark green. Remove the lid and stir the mixture together. Season with salt to taste and drizzle with the lemon juice and a touch more olive oil. Enjoy!