Our June Veggie of the Month is collards! These hearty greens are among the first of our crops transplanted into the fields, along with other plants in the brassica family such as broccoli and different cabbage varieties. Brassicas can withstand much lower temperatures than the likes of the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc) so they are a perfect candidate to go in the ground in early May. This also means that they are our first crops ready to be picked! We will be picking a few for a small distribution this week, and then starting to pick them in earnest next week.
The benefit to planting collards does not just come with their early harvest date. Not only are they easy to grow, but you can harvest leaves from the same plant repeatedly like you can with kale. The plant will continue to produce new leaves throughout the summer and into the fall.
Collards are a great source of vitamin C, soluble fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B1, potassium, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. While they are crammed with vitamins, collards don’t have as strong of a flavor as some of their kin like kale, so they are a good beginner green. The age of the leaves does not affect flavor, but older leaves are tougher and should be cooked for longer. Though in the traditional Southern way they are braised for a long time, collards are also a great and fresh tasting green when cooked just briefly or eaten raw. Collards are also used in many other cuisines, such as those of Africa, India, Egypt, Spain and Pakistan. They are spiced with many different flavorings not limited to garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut, turmeric, coriander and cardamom. Since collard leaves are large and sturdy they also make excellent wraps (see our Pinterest board for a few recipes!). Don’t be scared by the seemingly odd addition of peanut butter in this recipe, it makes for a great peanut sauce and will quickly convert collard skeptics!
Collards with Peanut Butter
Recipe from Vegetal Matters. Serves 4-6.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 lb collards, washed, large stems removed, and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup vegetable stock or water
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or other nut butter, or tahini)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or pot with a lid over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 3 minutes until it is slightly colored and fragrant. Add the collards, stock/water, peanut butter, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until they are wilted, about 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook at a low bubble for 5 minutes more. If the pan looks dry add more stock/water, but you want to have a thicker sauce. Finish with the lime juice and serve as a side or over brown rice.