I’m having a moment with cooked greens. I know, this is thrilling news, right? I’ve put cooked kale in my mashed potatoes, and now I’m sauting collard greens for every dinner.
These collards are a little garlicky, a little lemony, and seriously irresistible. They’re the perfect healthy and quick side dish, and they’re exactly what I’m craving as we get a taste of spring weather.
You might associate collard greens with West African cuisine (I put collards in my peanut soup). Maybe you have tried Southern collard greens, which are slow-cooked with bacon or the like. Southern-style collard greens were inherited from Africa, and so were Brazilian collard greens, called “couve mineira.”
I cooked these collards greens in the Brazilian style—quickly in hot oil, with some garlic and chili flakes. In Brazil, these collards frequently accompany the national dish, called “feijoada,” which is a rich black bean stew cooked with pork, and rice on the side. Take note that these collard greens would go great with black beans and rice if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
Now that our brief history lesson is complete, want to learn how to make this delicious side dish?
How to Cook Brazilian Collard Greens
My friend Matt introduced me to this cooking style years ago. I think it makes the best collard greens! Here’s how to do it:
- Cut the thick central ribs out of the collard greens, and stack the leaves on top of one another. Starting at one end, roll them up into a cigar-liked shape, then slice across the roll to make skinny rolls of collard strips. Use a sharp chef’s knife for this, and make your slices as thin as possible—ideally about 1/8-inch wide. Give the collards a few extra chops to break them apart.
- Warm a large, heavy-bottom skillet (cast iron is great) over medium-high heat. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil (the oil will later help your body absorb the nutrients in the greens). Then add the greens and some salt. Give the greens a good stir so they’re all lightly shimmering from the oil and turning darker green.
- Let the greens cook against the pan in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Thanks to the hot oil in the hot pan, some of the collards will eventually develop crisp, browned edges—these taste so good!
- Once you see a little browning action, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Rather than before, because otherwise it’ll burn by the time your collards are done, I suggest adding the garlic at this point.
- Transfer the collards to plates so they stop cooking. Serve with a wedge of lemon, and you’re done.
How to Serve Brazilian Collard Greens
Honestly, the flavors in these collard greens would go well with almost any hearty main dish. Here are some ideas: If you can’t find collards or have an extra bunch of kale,
Change It Up
Kale is a great substitute for the collard greens, .
These quick-cooked collard greens are also surprisingly fantastic with Asian flavors. If you’ve ever made my kale fried rice, you might appreciate this idea because kale and collards are similar greens.
For an Asian spin, you can simply reduce the salt (we’re adding salty sauce later) and substitute 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger for the garlic. Once the collards are done cooking, add a drizzle of store-bought teriyaki sauce to the pan, or add 1 teaspoon tamari or other soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil. (Skip the lemon.) So good.
Looking for more simple, healthy side dishes? Here are a few of my favorites:
Please let me know how these collards turn out for you in the comments! Cooked greens can be surprisingly addictive.
Quick Collard Greens
5 from 16 reviews
These collard greens are quickly cooked in olive oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice. You’re going to love these healthy, vegetarian collards! Recipe yields 2 side servings. To make multiples, simply repeat the ingredients and instructions below (cook each batch separately for best results).