Monday, April 19, 2010

Raw Collard Greens - Not Just for Country Girls

I grew up in Virginia, in the country, in a family that's completely comfortable with a lack of citification. My mother's famous refrain: Born in the country, gonna die in the country. This from a woman with a law degree and a taste for designer clothes. For us, country is something that has nothing to do with your education, your attire, or--as I'm finding as I relocate from state to state to state--with your address. It has a lot to do with your accent and choice of colloquialisms, what you call your Mumma and Daddy, where you spend Sunday mornings, how your treat your neighbors, and what you eat.

In the food arena, my mother (the Home Economics major), was much less country than some of our relatives. Don't mistake me. We ate plenty of fried chicken, pork sausage, and macaroni and cheese, and drank syrupy iced tea. It's just that certain items never made her menu: chitlins or other internal organs, pigs' feet or other easily recognized animal body parts, and mustard, collard, or turnip greens.

The menu was more or less fine with me. As a picky kid, I had a list of about 20 foods I would eat, not including junk foods which seemed limitless in their appeal. As I grew up and moved out on my own, I was excited to try an array of foods, which I'd not been exposed to growing up. I felt like I'd been downright robbed when I first had collard greens. For the first 18 years of my life, my mother had deprived me of my birthright as a moderately Southern, completely country girl--the delicious taste of collards. She still won't eat them, but I fell in love at first bite.

It's cool. I forgive you, Mumma, since I've got my Raw collard greens now. Here's a recipe. And here's another.

Marinated Collards
2 bunches collard greens (about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
2 T olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon (Can sub Raw apple-cider vinegar)
sea salt
2 T Raw sweetener (optional)

2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts* (preferably, soaked and dehydrated)
1 avocado, diced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced

Clean the collards and strip the leaves from the stems. (The stems can be saved for juicing.) Roll the leaves and slice them into strips. Slice the strips again into pieces about an inch by an inch. Traditionally, I learned to hand tear collards for cooking, but that was just too time consuming.

Toss the leaves in olive oil, lemon juice, and a few dashes of sea salt. Massage the leaves until they wilt and take on a cooked texture. I like to let them marinate overnight in the fridge.

Add toppings and enjoy.

I definitely add the sweetener for my kids. While I like all the toppings, they don't do the fruit and nuts. They prefer avocado and diced onion, so agave works for them. Sometimes the collards are more bitter, and then I add sweetener for myself.

*My local store was out of Raw walnuts, so I used "raw" pecans--not really Raw because they're heated in the shelling process.
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