Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Skillet Collards and Winter Squash with Barley

Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
My father was born and bred in the South so I am well acquainted with collard greens. Collards are a staple vegetable in every Southern kitchen.  My family still prepares them exactly the way my grandmother did and her grandmother before her-- simmered on the stove for hours and seasoned with fat-back, lots of onions, salt and pepper. Sometimes they toss in a few potatoes and some crushed red pepper. They come out soft and soggy and a light, translucent green. Serve with hot home-made biscuits to sop up the juices and you're in heaven. Pure heaven.

I used to eat them that way all the time.  Since becoming a vegan,  I must now say no to the big bowl of collards passed around the table at every family gathering. I just can't bring myself to eat anything cooked with fat-back, even if it's just a scant amount. And I really prefer my vegetables a bit greener and not quite so well-done.  But I still love collard greens. I've just had to have find healthier ways to cook them.

Collards are green, leafy winter vegetables. They're rich in Vitamin C and fiber and contain multiple nutrients with anticancer properties such as diindolylmethane and sulforaphane.  A quarter of a pound has about 46 calories so they're the perfect food for weight loss. Toss them into soups, steam them lightly and season with lemon or vinegar and crushed red pepper, stir fry them with garlic and oil, or boil them up with potatoes and a dash or two of Liquid Smoke for a long-simmered, smokey flavor. 

I stumbled across the perfect recipe in The New York Times: Skillet Collards with Winter Squash and Barley. This dish is gorgeous and bursting with life: gorgeous green collards, bright orange butternut squash and pretty little pearls of barley. It's a meal in itself or a good side dish to serve to the carnivores in your family with grilled fish or chicken.

Here's the recipe:
Skillet Collards with Winter Squash and Barley

If you've never cooked collard greens before,  I encourage you to try this recipe.  And let me know how it turns out. I would love to hear from you.


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