What’s Growing Now: Collards

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Collards are such big, beautiful plants, and they’re growing like crazy in the garden right now. A member of the cruciferous family, collards are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and calcium.  Collards are thought to aid in digestion and help to lower cholesterol, and they’re also delicious.

Here’s an easy recipe for a weeknight dinner that can be thrown together in about 45 minutes, if you have the ingredients on hand:

LINGUINE WITH COLLARDS, SAUSAGE AND TOMATOES

1 lb linguine

2 bunches of collards, the bigger the better (they shrink down quite a bit in the cooking process).

10-20 Roma tomatoes or whatever you have on hand, chopped

6 links sweet Italian sausage.  If you don’t eat meat (or sausage) you can just leave it out, or try substituting 1-2 cans of drained and rinsed chick peas, which will add some substance, fiber, and protein

1/2 onion, chopped

6 cloves crushed garlic

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

olive oil

First, put the water on for the linguine. Then chop the onion and garlic and let it sit while you prepare the collards.  This will allow time for the garlic to form a compound called allicin, which is where many of the health benefits of garlic come from. (Sounds nuts, but it’s backed by science: the brief version can be found here).

While the garlic is working its magic, remove the ribs from the collards.  It sounds like a pain, but it’s super easy with a sharp knife, it goes quick, and you’ll be able to enjoy the collards without needing dental work.  It looks like this:

Here’s a collard leaf before:

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We do a little zip-zip with the knife, and voila–all done:

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Chop the collards roughly and set them aside for a minute, while you sautee the onion and garlic in oil in a large pan over medium heat.

When the onion and garlic are cooked (the onion should be translucent), remove the sausage from its casings and add it to the pan, along with 1 tsp of crushed red pepper (this gives it a nice kick). You’re going to need to break the sausage into pieces with your spatula as it cooks. When it’s done, it should look something like this:

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The water for the linguine should be at a good boil now, so salt it heavily (“It should taste like the sea,” according to Frank), and add the linguine.

While the linguine is cooking, add the collards and tomatoes to the sausage/onion/garlic mixture, cover, and cook until the collards are wilted, but not mushy (about 5 minutes):

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Drain the linguine and add it to the pan, giving it a good toss to mix everything up.

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And that’s it! A healthy-ish dinner using collards in under an hour.

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