Collards are one of the few native vegetables for which Italians should envy Americans. Although a southerner might argue that my greens bear no resemblance to the true southern way of cooking them, they are great nonetheless.
I start by stripping the leaves from the stems and discarding the stems. If you use the stems, you need to cook the greens for an hour, rather than the five or ten minutes that I prefer.
After they’re stripped, I slice them into 1/2″ ribbons and boil for about 5 to 8 minutes, then drain. In a skillet, render some cubes of bacon, then add a splash of red wine vinegar and agave nectar (or honey) right to the skillet with the bacon and drippings, and pour over greens and toss like a salad dressing.
Can be boiled ahead, then dressed at the last minute. Note: the vinegar will discolor the leaves, so I like to dress them with the bacon and vinegar right before they go on the table. Although the leaves discolor a bit, they’re perfectly fine to keep and eat as leftovers.
Collard Greens with Bacon
2 bunches collards (these can vary a great deal in size, so if they’re freakishly large, use only one bunch–they’ll cook down a great deal)
1/4 lb bacon cubes
1 tbl olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp agave nectar or honey
Strip leaves from the stems and discard stems. Julienne the leaves into 1/2″ strips and wash in a deep bowl of water (big enought to let the sand fall to the bottom). Fish out, leaving soil on bottom. Repeat if there’s still soil on the bottom of bowl. Drain.
Plunge leaves into salted boiling water and boil for 5 – 8 minutes, until leaves are fairly tender. Drain.
In a skillet slowly render the bacon in oil for about 5 – 8 minutes on low heat. Add oil and agave and mix. Toss over greens in a bowl like a salad. Can be eaten warm or at room temperature.