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How to make Delicious Vegan Collard Greens

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If you’ve ever wondered how to cook collard greens, particularly if you are from the UK, wonder no more – my simple braised collard greens ensures that you have a tender green, full of flavor but no bitterness. A perfect side for any meal!

A dish of collard greens

Have you ever wondered what collard greens are? Maybe you’ve read about them in an American cookbook and thought, do we have collards over here (in the UK).

On trips to the US, I was lucky enough to find some canned collard greens, and these are really delicious, although impossible to find over here. Furthermore, they are not vegan (or even vegetarian) friendly, so let’s look for another option!

This was inspired by my dirty rice recipe, and also pairs well with with my delicious vegan and gluten free cornbread recipe or my braised red cabbage.

What are Collard Greens?

Firstly, let’s explain what collard greens are. The collard is a loose leaf vegetable, meaning that, unlike cabbage, it doesn’t grow in a tight “ball” of leaves, you can just pick them, much like spinach. The word collard comes from a charming medieval word, colewort, meaning a non-heading brassica.

A dish of cooked collard greens

They have been around for a long time, some reports say more than 2000 years, when the ancient Greeks first cultivated them.

They are a staple ingredient in southern cooking, beloved in Turkey and East Africa, but are not very popular in the UK. Perhaps this is in part due to their slightly bitter and tough texture, or perhaps because kale or spinach or spring greens are preferable.

A glance through old recipe books shows that collards have never really been utilised at all in the UK, although we have the perfect climate for growing them. I had kind of written off being able to eat collards over here until I found that Natoora sell them, and they’re grown in the UK! You can buy them easily on Ocado if you’re tempted to give them a go. You’ll be rewarded with a rich tasting green, with a buttery texture, somewhat akin to spring greens but with more of an iron tang.

How do you cook Collard Greens?

Easy Vegan Collard Greens

Long and slow brings out the unique buttery, velvety texture of collard greens, but you can also use them as you would cabbage leaves, stuffed and baked, or even as a filling for ravioli.

Ingredients

Collard Green Ingredients
  • collard greens
  • liquid smoke
  • onions and garlic

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

  • Place the collard leaves in a large bowl of cold water and leave to soak for five minutes or so. Rinse and drain, then chop into shreds.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic until tender.
  • Add the shredded collards and cook until they just start to wilt.
  • Cover with some water, put a lid on the pan, then leave to gently simmer until tender.
  • Add a little liquid smoke (to taste), seasoning and tabasco, then serve.

Substitutions

You can certainly use spring greens instead of collard greens. They’re not quite the same, perhaps a little tenderer, but you can make a comparable dish.

Variations

  • Spicy – add chili pepper flakes while cooking to imbue heat into the dish, or banana peppers
  • Deluxe – add some chopped fried vegan bacon and fried onions

Storage

Store in the fridge once cooled, and these will be good for 2-3 days.

Once cooled, place cooked collards in a ziplock bag and freeze for several months. To thaw, place in a bowl overnight, then reheat in a saucepan.

Top tip

Make sure to wash your collard greens in a large bowl of water, rinsing a few times. They can harbor grit, which is really unpleasant!

Vegan Collard Greens

A dish of collard greens
A delicious and simple recipe to bring out the flavor of collard greens
Freya
4.84 from 6 votes
Prep 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500 g Collard Greens - fibrous stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 Onion - small, chopped finely
  • 2 Garlic - cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • Tabasco Sauce - to taste

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté gently until tender and translucent.
  • Add the chopped collard greens and stir well. Allow the greens to wilt in the heat of the pan, then add a quarter cup of water. Cover.
  • Cook until the collard greens are completely tender and buttery in texture. Add the seasoning, liquid smoke and tabasco sauce to taste.

Please note that where the recipe asks for milk, butter or yogurt, this refers to any plant-based version that you prefer.

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Collard Greens
Amount per Serving
Calories
85
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
4
g
6
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Sodium
 
607
mg
26
%
Potassium
 
319
mg
9
%
Carbohydrates
 
10
g
3
%
Fiber
 
6
g
25
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
6277
IU
126
%
Vitamin C
 
47
mg
57
%
Calcium
 
302
mg
30
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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