These leafy greens are healthy, delicious, in season, and in style.

By Virginia Willis
October 18, 2017

Do you remember just a few years ago when kale became the hot new thing? Suddenly, bunches of glamorous greens with sophisticated, international names (like Lacinato, Red Russian, Siberian, and Smooth German) started gracing supermarket shelves. Farmers' markets didn't miss out on the craze either and offered colorful bundles of Scarlet and Dwarf Blue kale—with equally precious prices. Restaurant menus featured the vegetable in the form of snacks, salads, smoothies, and soups. Kale was sexy; kale was on the catwalk; kale was the beauty queen of brassicas.

But according to a 2014 study of the nutritional density of powerhouse fruits and vegetables conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it turns out it's a case of style over substance in this situation. Kale, the supermodel of superfoods, came in at number 15, while collard greens—kale's country cousin—ranked 10th. Kale was a full five spots below collards; it didn't even make it into the top 10.

Why haven't collard greens gotten kale's celebrity treatment? Down South, we know that collards are good and good for you. Heirloom selections like Georgia Southern and Alabama Blue certainly don't sound exotic, but they are the stars of country cooking. However, in the rest of America, collards are misunderstood, thought to be the domain of poor Southerners, and they're prepared only in one way: drowned in pork fat and cooked beyond recognition into a form of army green pabulum. We are partially to blame for that misconception. As Southerners moved away from their native region or improved their financial situations, many left behind down-home cooking styles too. And while I love old-school collard greens (especially with a wedge of skillet cornbread), there are so many more ways to enjoy them. Anything kale can do, collards can do too.

Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Mary-Claire Britton

Turkey-and-Collard Green Stew

Have some leftover turkey this Thanksgiving. Ditch the sandwich and make this delicious stew. Simmered in one pot, this recipe comes together in just over an hour.

Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Mary-Claire Britton

Collard Green Creole Dirty Rice

This vibrant dish is filled with flavor. With thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic cloves, and a poblano chile your senses will be thanking you.

Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Mary-Claire Britton

Sweet Potato-and-Collard Green Gratin

Everyone is fixing a classic sweet potato casserole this time of year. Mix things up with this gratin. Layers of sweet potatoes and seasonal spices add so much to tasty collard greens.