We traditionally eat collards at the New Year. In the days when tossing a ham bone into the cooking pot was acceptable, the collards were stewed. We make vegetarian collards now, and I think stir-fried collards are much tastier than cooked-to-pieces collards. You can cook kale the same way.
This recipe is adapted from a Food Network show starring Jessica Harris, Ph.D., educator and culinary historian. She is the author of many books about African-American foodways, including High on the Hog: a Culinary Journey from Africa to America, with a foreword by Maya Angelou.
2 pounds fresh collard greens
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
Wash the collards thoroughly. Sometimes you find sand in them and you want to get it out. Drain the collards. Cut out the center stem. Bunch a stack of collard leaves together. Roll each bunch up tightly, then cut crosswise into thin strips. If your leaves are very large, cut the bundle of strips crosswise, so that each strip is a reasonable length. It is harder to cook, serve, and eat these delicious collards when the strips are as long as a big collard leaf that might measure 18 inches from top to bottom.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until it is lightly browned, 3 or 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic for another minute. Don’t let the garlic burn. Add the collard strips and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or so until the greens are soft. Season with salt and pepper.