This is how I imagine the idea of eating collard greens started:
Two women set out in a field to gather plants to make a meal many, many moons ago. One picks up some collard greens, takes a bite, and spits it out. “YUCK!” she says. The second one takes a bite, chews it a second, and also spits it out. She says “this would be great if we boiled the crap out of it and then fried it in pig fat. Let’s get a whole bunch of it to bring back to our camp.”
And collard greens were born.
I don’t grow collard greens. If I wanted something in that area, I would just grow Packman Broccoli and eat the leaves as it grew. (They’re really quite good, and I’d also get the main and side heads of broccoli.) But the collard greens, they come in my mom’s CSA farm share box and she never quite knows what to do with them, so they end up at my house.
So here is what you do with the collard greens:
Collard Greens with Sausage and Polenta
What you need:
- Collard greens (a bunch or 2)
- Either a couple of cloves of garlic, minced, or 2 garlic whips, sliced (the whips seem to be in season at the same time as the collard greens)
- A small onion (I used a red torpedo onion out of my garden), chopped
- A package of bulk sausage (I used sage—mild or hot is OK too)
- A roll of premade polenta (feel free to make your own—I have 2 small kids, so I’m not into the whole Martha Stewart thing right now)
- A bit of olive oil, as needed
- A pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper
- Milk (optional) for the polenta
Mash the sausage into the bottom of the pan and start browning it on medium-high. When it is nearly done, add the collard greens, garlic, onions , salt, pepper and a cup of water to the pan. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low. Cook until the greens are soft and edible, stirring frequently. Add more water and/or a touch of olive oil as needed to keep them softening and avoid sticking to the pan, but don’t totally float them in water—this isn’t a soup. The end product should have most of the water cooked off.
When your greens are done, remove from the heat and leave covered. Cut off a 2-inch slice of the polenta roll and place in the bottom of a bowl. Microwave for 20-25 seconds on high, remove, and mash with a fork. Add a few tablespoons of milk or water to the polenta, mashing it into a pudding with the fork. Microwave for another 20-30 second on high, get the final lumps out with a fork, top with the sausage/polenta mixture, and serve. (If you didn’t get flavored polenta, you could also top with a bit of grated hard cheese or julienned basil before serving.)