“Mmmm. Would ya scoop me another helping of dark leafy greens?!” That statement isn’t usually heard too often in most households. More like, “Mmmm. Would ya scoop me another helping of lasagna/mac-n-cheese/mashed potatoes…” (Insert comfort food here.)
When you think of eating “dark leafy greens” you probably don’t think of them as something you’d want to take a second helping of. This recipe is my attempt to change that. Using a few rich flavors, but keeping the recipe pretty simple so the main ingredient, collard greens, isn’t lost in a pool of heavy cream, or something along those lines, was my goal.
I know the benefits of eating this kind of “cruciferous” leafy vegetable. (Had to double-check the spelling of that word. Cru-ci-fer-ous.) Leafy veggies like collard greens, mustard greens, kale, cabbage, broccoli… They’re filled with lots of vitamins and since they’re so good for you, I try to cook them as often as possible, but that wasn’t always the case. I used to run into a problem.
Many of these greens can be pretty bitter and strong in flavor. My husband was not a fan. Cooking them with my friends, Olive Oil and Garlic, didn’t cut it either, even for me, which was frustrating. I was determined to come up with a recipe that he would not just like, but love. Talk about a challenge.
Since my husband loves bacon, grated cheese, and cooked onions, (and who am I kidding, so do I,) those three ingredients inspired this recipe.
2 Bunches of Collard Greens (or any dark leafy green)
1 Large Vidalia Onion (chopped)
3-6 Slices of Bacon (+ reserved grease in pan)
1/4 Cup Grated Cheese (+ more for garnish)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Sprinkle of Sugar (I use “Sugar in the Raw“)
Pinch of Nutmeg
- Begin by cooking down bacon in large frying pan until crispy, set aside, and reserve bacon grease for frying onion.
- Dice one large sweet onion and cook in bacon grease over medium heat until soft and translucent.
- Clean, dry, and chop collard greens in batches on large cutting board. Remove the lower portion of stems with sharp knife and discard. Toss chopped greens in large bowl and place near stove.
- Lower frying pan heat to medium/low and add about 1/2 the chopped greens to pan.
- Cover pan and allow to cook down, removing lid to stir occasionally.
- When greens begin to wilt, add the remaining amount, cover, and continue to cook down until stems are tender.
- Add salt, pepper, sugar, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- Add grated cheese and stir to incorporate.
- Taste and season again with salt, pepper, and/or sugar, if necessary.
- Before serving, sprinkle with crushed bits of bacon and additional grated cheese.
After making this side dish many, many times, I will tell you it’s the unexpected sprinkle of sugar that helps bring the flavors together. It’s also the key to getting the taste “just right.” The sugar really helps cut through the bitterness of the greens, and balances out the salt from the bacon and grated cheese.
So there you have it. This recipe is just the right amount of rich, without being too heavy and creamy. Delicious flavor and you can feel pretty good about enjoying it, unlike, say, “creamed spinach.”
So…Did somebody say, “Pass the collard greens back down this way?”