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Get on the collard green bandwagon

Published 10:38am Thursday, April 3, 2014

Collard greens are one of my top five favorite foods. They are excellent for you, easy to cook with, delicious, and work in a variety of recipes.

Recent studies actually show that of all the cruciferous foods, collards may have the greatest cholesterol lowering principles. This means they beat out kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. That’s some pretty tough competition! They are also extremely high in vitamins K and A and have been proven to help fight cancer.

While these greens are clearly loaded with health benefits, they are also culinarily versatile.

Collards are by far my preferred greens to cook with. They are less bitter than kale and chard, and they hold up better in the cooking process. Other greens tend to wilt immediately,while collard greens take a bit longer to cook and don’t really fall limp the way other greens do. Further, since they aren’t bitter they can be eaten raw in salads and are quite tasty. I use these beautiful leaves in everything from green smoothies to wraps to stir fries.

The recipe I want to share with you this week is one of those I just kind of came up with because I had a bunch of random ingredients in my fridge I needed to use. This is how I come up with some of my favorite dishes, just tossing together what I have to use right then. While it’s great to have a recipe and general direction you’re going with the dish in mind, I find it’s really fun sometimes to just see where the recipe takes you.

Allowing my random produce dregs to lead the way, I came up with this spicy and satisfying salad. It’s loosely inspired by an appetizer dish my mom calls Cowboy Caviar. Packed with black beans, pintos, corn and a kick, this one will get you on the collard wagon.

Collard Cowboy Salad

1 cup black beans

1 1/2 cup pinto beans

1 1/2 cups collard green ribbons

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/3 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 cup yellow corn

1 cup sliced radish

3 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)

1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, seasoning sea salt to taste

Chopped and salt, cooked (about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice

1. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss well. Cover,  and let sit over night.
2. Serve at your next potluck or party.

Cook’s Note: To prep collard greens in this fashion, remove the rib as you would with kale or chard (save the ribs for vegetable stock or sautee). Fold the leaf over itself and slice into 1/4 inch thick ribbons.

To salt cook an onion, finely chop the onion, then sprinkle with sea salt. Press with the flat edge of your chef knife and mix well.

Kat Barry, a St. Joseph, Michigan native, is owner of Kat’s Hot Cakes vegan catering, and co author of “The New Chicago Diner Cookbook: Meat Free Recipes from America’s Veggie Diner.” She also develops recipes for eHow.com, where you can find over 30 of her vegan instructional cooking videos. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Kat currently resides in Chicago, and in her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, sampling local spirits, listening to live music, and getting outdoors. Follow @katshotcakes on twitter. Kat can be reached via email at: kat@katshotcakes.com.

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