new year, new collards

Usually at this time of year, I’m eager to share a baking recipe: an old favorite sweet, a silly breakfast trick, or a big pile of cookies. I often have an idea that’s been in my back pocket and I wait until prime eating season to write about it. This year, in a shockingly savory turn of events, the holiday recipe I’m most excited about is…collard greens. Quite the opposite of staid, long-cooked greens, these are Vibrant, Spicy, Garlicky, Kick Down the Door of 2016 Collards.

brazilian collard greens

For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed the tradition of eating collard greens on New Year’s Day. It’s supposed to bring good fortune (stacks of greens = stacks of cash) and I like starting the year with something healthy. Greens on New Year’s isn’t something I grew up with—even the promise of riches couldn’t convince my dad to eat a leafy green (me neither, for most of my life)—but Ed and I have made it an annual ritual. For the first couple of years, I cooked collards in the low and slow southern stewed fashion. They were good, but I never loved them the way I’d hoped to. The texture wasn’t my ideal and the flavor didn’t knock my socks off. Last year, I went hunting for a different kind of collards recipe and I came across Martha Stewart / Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Brazilian Collard Greens. It was much faster to prepare than the braised collards and it had a bold taste I loved.

garlic cooking

garlic cooking

The secret: a lot of garlic-infused olive oil. The garlic browns in the oil and then nestles into the mess of thinly shredded greens. The collards cook just until wilted, leaving greenness in both the appearance and the taste. Each bite is powerfully flavorful: the greens’ bitterness is tempered and balanced by the meaty garlic and a layer of heat from the red chile flakes. It’s also very pretty in a bed-head way—much more visually enticing than drab olive-colored braised greens.

collards meet garlic

collards meet garlic (with one escapee)

This collards recipe is not only a fresh way to start the new year, but it’s also easy enough to become a regular side dish year-round. Good luck and good health: a strong way to start 2016.

brazilian collard greens
adapted from Martha Stewart

There are many recipes online for Brazilian collard greens (couve à mineira), all with various proportions of olive oil to garlic. I like this ratio, but if you’re resolving to eat more garlic in the new year, feel free to add even more to the oil.

ingredients

1 bunch collard greens
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
Salt and Pepper, to taste

instructions

Cut the stem ends from the collard leaves and wash thoroughly in cold water (you don’t need to dry them). Cut the center stem from each leaf. Stack the leaves in a neat pile or two and roll them lengthwise like a cigar. Slice the collards crosswise as thinly as possible to form shreds.

Heat the olive oil, garlic, and red chile flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. When the garlic is golden brown (2 to 3 minutes), use tongs to add the shredded collards, turning and tossing to cover them with oil and garlic. Add a big pinch of salt. Continue to turn the collards until they have wilted, softened slightly, and started to release moisture (3-5 minutes). Taste and adjust salt.

top: collards rolled before slicing crosswise; bottom: shredded

top: collards rolled before slicing crosswise; bottom: shredded

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