Collards with carrots, garlic and pumpkin seeds add beautiful colors to your summer dinner table.
Collards are like the dinosaurs of vegetables because their origin is rooted in prehistoric times. A member of the cabbage family, they are loaded with vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), C, K and folate and minerals manganese and iron. Collards contain glucosinolates that help activate the body’s detoxification enzymes.
Although you could easily make this dish with other greens such as spinach, chard and kale, collards have a uniquely subtle smoky and slightly bittersweet flavor. Today, collards are plentiful year round in grocery stores. Spring planted collards are at their peak during the summer and have a more intense flavor, while fall planted collards are sweeter and at their peak from January to April.
Collards are quite easy to prepare. Smooth out a leaf on your cutting board with the stem end closest to you. From top to bottom, cut a slice along each side of the stem and remove the stem. Stems may be saved for making broth or soup or chopped fine and included in the recipe. Next, fold the leaf in half, stack with other leaves and cut lengthwise and crosswise into ½-1-inch pieces, the perfect size for quick steaming to preserve maximum nutritional quality and pleasurable eating.
Thin slices of carrots cut on the diagonal add color, fiber and more beta-carotene. Garlic, essential for its flavor enhancing, aromatic quality in many dishes, enriches the taste of collards. The key to getting garlic’s maximum health benefits is to cut garlic when starting to prepare a recipe so it has time to sit for about ten minutes before cooking. Doing so allows the allinase enzyme to release allicin, a phytonutrient with many health-promoting qualities. Similarly, cutting collard greens activates its myrosinase enzyme, which increases the formation of cancer-preventive isothiocyanates from glucosinolates.
A fun addition to these collards is pumpkin seeds – they add crunch and more color. You might see them labeled as Pepitas, the Spanish word for pumpkin or other squash seeds. Any seed or nut you have on hand may be used.
Collard Greens with Carrots, Garlic & Pumpkin Seeds
2 large garlic cloves
8 collard greens leaves
2 medium carrots
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. shelled raw pumpkin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel and cut garlic cloves into thin lengthwise slices.
Cut away stem and center vein from each collard leaf. Fold leaf in half and stack. Cut leaves lengthwise into 1-inch strips, turn and cut into ½-1-inch pieces.
Peel and cut carrots into thin diagonal slices.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and sauté 1 minute. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add collards and carrots and sauté until collards begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in ½ cup water. Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes, until crisp tender. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring often, until water evaporates, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 114 calories, 9 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 33 mg sodium.