This is one of those love at first sight stories. As soon as I laid eyes on its verdant leaves, elegant stalks and dramatic deep veins, my heart rate doubled and I knew I was a goner. The object of my affection is collard greens, a stunning leaf from the charming brassica family.
Collards earn their eminence from America’s deep south where they are often slow-cooked with copious amounts of pork. While most leafy greens would not stand for such long cooking times, collards are resilient and brilliantly retain their flavour and structure. In lieu of swine, I love to stew collards with heady Caribbean spices and coconut milk – the results are simply melt-in-your-mouth.
On the opposite end of the cooking spectrum, collards are also incredibly delicious raw. In this salad, I’m rejoicing in its southern roots by serving them with roasted sweet potato, pinto beans and a rather smashing paprika-spiked buttermilk dressing. And don’t fret, while collard greens are not widely available in Australia, savoy cabbage, kale and cavolo nero all make formidable and excellent substitutes. Similarly, if you can’t find pinto beans in your neck of the woods, simply use borlotti, red kidney or black beans.