Collard Green or collards is not native to the Caribbean, so it’s not something we would refer to as being traditional. However, with our love for dasheen bush, spinach, Jamaican callaloo (chorai), Bok Choi and just about every other green there is, it’s natural that collards will find a loving home in my kitchen. If I can somehow incorporate greens as part of my daily menu, I’d go for it.. my love for it is that strong.
Rather than going with some sort of smoked meat or salted fish as we would normally add extra flavor to such dishes, I thought I’d keep this collard green recipe fully vegetarian and it just so happens to be gluten free as well.
Disclaimer – please go through the entire list of ingredients to ensure they meet with your gluten free dietary restrictions.
1 bunch collard greens (about 2 lbs)
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 birds eye pepper
To learn how to prepare collard greens, please watch this video: How To Prepare Collard Green for Cooking.
The collard leaves can have dirt between the leaves, so do wash them individually to ensure you get them fully cleaned. Remove the center spine (discard) and roll a few leaves together as if making a cigar. Now slice to form 2/4 inch ribbons.
Dice the onion and garlic, then heat the oil in a pan over medium fame. Go in with the onion and garlic, turn the heat down to low and cook gently for about 4-6 minutes. Also add the whole (do NOT break or cut these unless you want raw heat) peppers.
The goal is to get the flavor of the peppers, but not necessarily the heat (unless you want it spicy). Now raise the heat to medium and add the prepared collard greens to the pot, top with the salt and black pepper… stir well.
Add the coconut milk and diced tomato and bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Place a lid on the pot and gently cook for about 40 minutes.
Now remove the lid and go in with the freshly squeezed lemon juice. The citrus will brighten up this collard greens dish and give it a sort of freshness. Cook with the lid off for another 5 minutes or so. Couple points.. taste for salt and adjust accordingly and please modify the cooking time to achieve the consistency and texture you like your collard greens to have. Some people cook it longer and others for a shorter time.
Now I know my friends from the Southern US will be saying.. no smoked turkey, no ham hocks, not even some bacon? All wonderful flavor ingredients to add, but I assure you this vegetarian version of cooking collard greens will rock your taste buds.