I have spent most of my life avoiding collard greens. In my view they didn’t sound good and they didn’t smell good. Gathered in bunches, dog-eared and dirty, they didn’t even look good on the produce aisle let alone cooked at length until they were ladled out in a dark lifeless clump of mushy leaves.
That naive impression was hard to shake until I moved to Memphis, TN. There, as I explored the city, I found collard greens on the menu again and again. Not only were they offered with the city's celebrated staples, like fried chicken and barbecued ribs, but collard greens could be found on more innovative menus as well. In Memphis I learned that while collards don’t always look pretty they are a leafy green with enough character to stand up to a variety of interpretations. I began to seek them out and order them whenever I had the chance. In Memphis I even began to cook with collard greens and made some interesting discoveries.
This recipe offers a quick approach to savoring those homely greens I once judged so harshly. Here collard leaves are cut into thin strips and quickly sautéed with cranberries in olive oil and vinegar. The resulting side dish is bright and tangy with a tender but toothsome texture. It easily feels at home beside Cornbread and Lucky Black Eyed Peas when celebrating the New Year, or with Herb Roasted Chicken or fried eggs anytime.
1 lb fresh collard greens (about 8 cups)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup dried cranberries
Wash collard greens. Trim and discard stems and tough stalks from the center of the leaves. Stack remaining leaves and roll up beginning at one long side. Slice the roll at ¼-inch intervals to yield long thin strips of collard leaves.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the collard strips, dried cranberries, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the greens are wilted and tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.