Collard greens just may be my favorite vegetable (so hard to choose!), so they’re top on my list to buy during the few months of the year when I don’t get a CSA share. I do get beautiful collard greens in my farm shares, but not as often as I crave them.
This is a very simple side dish that takes less than ten minutes from start to finish. It’s not the awesome, southern version my great aunt used to make which involved cooking them down until they were soft. Instead, this is a quick method that retains some of the collard’s crunch.
You’ll sauté the garlic and greens in one skillet and toast the nuts in another. In the ingredients list, you’ll notice I specified fig vinegar or “another sweet vinegar”. That is my way of saying, if you’re going to buy fig vinegar for any recipe, I’d buy it for this one. I used to really love chocolate vinegar which I bought once a year at a specialty store, but I have found that fig vinegar, which is easier to find in regular grocery stores, does everything chocolate vinegar did and more. It’s a little sweet and fruity and if you buy it, I think you’ll use it a lot.
I also specify hazelnuts because they are delicious, nutritious, and work really well in this dish. You could use hazelnuts or pecans by themselves or a blend of the two which is what I would recommend if you can.
Vegetables & seasonings
2 T extra virgin olive oil
½ of a big bunch of collard greens (enough to fill a 12” skillet), coarsely chopped, tough stems removed
1 large clove garlic (or 2 small), minced
1 T balsamic fig vinegar (or plain balsamic or other sweet vinegar)
pinch of chili pepper flakes
⅓ cup (or more) chopped hazelnuts and pecans
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Wash the collards, give them a shake, and cut away the thick stems. If you have a veggie scrap bag in your freezer, these are a nice addition (see Top 5 Things to Keep in Your Freezer).
With a big knife, roughly cut the collards into manageable pieces (approx 2”). They will shrink down when you cook them.
Peel and mince the garlic.
With a sharp knife, chop the hazelnuts in half and the pecans into smallish pieces.
Toast the nuts:
Heat a heavy bottom skillet or cast iron to medium. You don’t need to add oil.
Spread out the nuts in a single layer and stir regularly for 2-5 minutes. Keep an eye out for a slight change in color or browning around the edges. Smaller pieces, and the hazelnut skins, will toast first so use those as your guide.
As soon as you see toasting, turn off the heat. Continue to stir a bit longer even after the heat is off to avoid charring.
Sauté the collards:
Heat the oil in your skillet over medium-low heat. Add diced garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
Add the damp, roughly chopped collards, turn up the heat to med-high and stir continuously. The little bit of water on the greens will help them steam a bit while you toss them in the garlic oil. Continue to stir for 4-6 minutes.
Add the chili pepper flakes, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn them off when the greens are as soft as you like them and heated through.
Toss in the toasted nuts and serve promptly.