Badass collards shouldn't be reserved for just Sunday soul food dinners and holidays. These silky-smooth meatless braised collard greens were meant to be enjoyed on weeknights as well.
Musical Inspiration for Wine Braised Collard Greens
If I could only eat one food, it'd likely be collard greens. My love affair with this dark cruciferous aphrodisiac runs deep and goes way way back. It was the first vegetable I planted, cared for, and harvested as a youngster working in my grandfather's garden. I don't have a favorite or preferred way to enjoy them, as I'm more into trying to discover as many ways as possible to enjoy them. Michael Henderson's song "Let Me Love You" was on mind when I made this dish.
Recently my daughter hinted at wanting some good greens this week while taking a break from her studies. In the same conversation, she asked me if I knew who Michael Henderson was and more importantly wanted to know "who talks about a trolley in a love song".
Of course, I stayed cool and hid my excitement that her Spotify playlist included Michael Henderson, but then went on to explain how great writers and poets were excellent at setting the scene for their audience before then taking the opening to further discuss the contributions of one our slept on unsung musical greats. If you think I'm embellishing look him up here on wikipedia.
Braised Greens Ingredients
- Collard Greens
- Dried Chili Peppers (morita or chipotle) - chilis provide the smoke flavor that smoked meats usually provide.
- Yellow Onions
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Broth - vegetable or chicken depending on whether you're keeping the dish 100% vegan.
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- White Wine - go for a sweeter wine like a Reisling or Gewürztraminer
- Cider vinegar
- Kosher Salt
- Black pepper
Prepare the greens
Remove stem from the leaves. Roll the leaves into cigar shapes and then slice thinly into shreds. Wash the shredded greens then drain.
Braise the greens
Heat the dried chiles in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat and add oil to allow chiles to infuse the oil with smokiness.
Add the onions, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to the same skillet. Add more oil if necessary. Saute until onions are softened, fragrant, and beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes. Remove the chilis.
Add the collard greens, stirring constantly until softened and all leaves are coated well. Pour in the broth and wine, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until greens are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
VEGAN GREENS COOKING CONSIDERATIONS
Replacing Smoked Meat Flavor with Vegan Option
Traditional southern style collard greens call for long, slow cooking in a smoky meat-based broth usually with pork or turkey. I get questions all the time from many followers looking for a no taste compromise meatless alternative. They want to know how to cook greens without meat. These are people who are vegan or just looking to reduce meat consumption for health reasons.
Often the question behind the question is how do I get that smoky, savory flavor without meat. It's a fair question, and luckily one I have a good answer for. Though I'm not vegan, I am aware of keeping cholesterol and blood pressure in check hence I do experiment and look for meat-free recipes particularly as it relates to sides.
The solution for cooking meatless greens with that heavenly smokiness is using dried smoky chili peppers. You essentially infuse your broth with smoke similarly to how you make tea. Just allow the chiles to steep in your broth before adding the greens.
Collard Greens Health Benefits
This is great news for my fellow Southerners and soul food connoisseurs, but hold up! This assumes you cook them properly to get both maximum flavor and optimal health benefits. Properly means no super long cooking times, heavy use of pork fat, and over the top salting.
Don't forget to remove the dried chiles otherwise, they will dissolve in your broth and leave your greens spicy AF!
The smaller you cut the collards, the faster they cook. This is important as traditional methods call for long cook times to eliminate the bitterness while having the adverse impact of cooking away all those great nutrients.
Unless you're drinking all that pot liquor you're missing out on the health benefits. Smaller pieces allow for quicker flavor absorption with less erosion of nutritional elements.
Use a sweeter wine like a Riesling or German Gewurztraminer. Cooking will concentrate their sweetness and help offset the bitterness you get with the shorter cooking time.
If you choose a non-vegan route, use a leaner protein like smoked turkey. Saute in the initial step and add back into the broth during the finishing steps
Flavor Profile of Wine Braised Greens
Though using a quicker cooking time than the traditional long-simmering versions, these wine braised collard greens have a much deeper flavor. The concentrated sweetness of the wine eliminates the natural bitterness of the greens while also along with the cider, helps ensure tender, smooth collards vs. that raw crunchy taste and mouthfeel.
The cider vinegar also brings in the acidity to balance against the sweetness and maintain the savory integrity of the greens. The dried chiles are a great alternative flavor enhancer to smoked meats. It's not as deep a smokey flavor you'd get from smoked ham hocks or neck bones, but it's cleaner and more aromatic and absent of fat and cholesterol if you're monitoring. Adding smoked sweet paprika brings in that smokey element as well.
Braised Collards Meal planning Tips
Use freshest collards available and cook them soon after purchasing or harvesting
The braised greens can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days. IMO they taste better after sitting a while.
Make your own stock. You can produce more flavor, less salt, and more of a fresh vegetables taste.
Don't break the bank on the wine. Choose a moderate priced white, and make sure to poor yourself a glass while cooking!
MORE COLLARD GREENS RECIPES
MAKING THIS RECIPE
If you make this braised collard greens recipe or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- 2 large bunches collard greens pulled from stems and chopped
- 5 dried Chile peppers or smoked meat for non-Vegan option
- 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or homemade
- 1 cup white wine Riesling or gewurztraminer
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Cut and trim the collard greens removing the tough stems. Roughly chop the trimmed greens into ½-inch ribbons.
- Heat the dried chiles in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat and add oil to allow the chiles to infuse oil with smokiness.
- Add the onions, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the same skillet. Add more oil if necessary. Saute until the onions are softened, fragrant and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the chiles.
- Add the collard greens, stirring constantly until softened and all leaves coated well. Pour in the broth and wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the greens are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Once the greens are tender add the vinegar and season more with salt and pepper.