Collard Greens: A Versatile and Nutritious Southern Staple

Collard greens are a leafy green vegetable native to the Mediterranean region, now widely enjoyed in the Southern United States. They’re known for their hearty flavor, dark color, and nutritional value. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, collard greens are a healthy addition to any diet

What are collard greens?

Collard greens have large, flat leaves with tough stems. They can be enjoyed raw, but are more commonly cooked, which tenderizes the leaves and brings out their flavor. Collard greens have a slightly bitter taste that mellows with cooking.

How to prepare collard greens:

  • Washing: Collard greens can harbor dirt and grit, so washing them thoroughly is crucial. Rinse them well in several changes of cold water, separating the leaves from the stems if desired.

  • Cooking: Collard greens can be boiled, steamed, braised, or sauteed. Cooking times vary depending on the method and desired tenderness. Popular Southern recipes often simmer collard greens with smoked meats or pork products for added flavor.

Recipe inspiration:

Here are some ideas for incorporating collard greens into your meals:

  • Classic Southern Collard Greens: This traditional recipe simmered with ham hocks or bacon is a soul food staple. You can adjust the seasoning to your preference, adding a touch of hot sauce or vinegar for a kick.
  • Sautéed Collard Greens with Garlic and Lemon: This quick and healthy dish is perfect for a weeknight side. Saute the greens with garlic and olive oil, then finish with a squeeze of lemon for a bright flavor.
  • Collard Green Salad: Collard greens can be enjoyed raw in salads. Massage them with olive oil and lemon juice to soften them slightly, then toss with other salad ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese.
  • Stuffed Collard Greens: For a more creative presentation, try stuffing collard leaves with a mixture of rice, quinoa, or ground meat. Bake or steam the stuffed leaves until cooked through.


  • Look for collard greens with deep green, crisp leaves. Avoid wilted or yellowed greens.
  • Remove the tough stems from collard greens before cooking, if desired. You can chop them and cook them with the leaves, or discard them.
  • Collard greens can be cooked in advance and reheated. They also freeze well.