“That’s All We Get?” – Collard Greens Make a Debut at Harvest of the Month

How many of you like collard greens?  That is the first question that almost 7,000 elementary students in our community were asked before they each took a big bite of fresh, raw Collard Green leaves during their Harvest of the Month tasting.  For one 6th grade class at Grass Valley Charter School the answer was zero.  Zero!  Not one single student liked collard greens because not one single student had ever tasted collard greens.  So, we fixed that asap!  “This tastes like broccoli,” “It’s kind of sweet,” “They’re not spicy!” “Is this all we get?” were just some of the exclamations. Now how many of you like collard greens?  That is the second question that the students were asked.  The answer for this class of 23 students…10!  Ten students out of the 23 now liked collard greens!  That’s nearly 45%.  We call that success! 

This is exactly what Sierra Harvest hopes to see as liaisons at our local schools carry out the Farm to School program.  The Farm to School program provides monthly Harvest of the Month tastings of local, seasonal, featured produce as well as farm field trips to local farms, in-school farmer visits, school produce stands with produce from local partner farms, “Tasting Week” with local chefs, and spring plant starts to almost 7,000 students in 22 local elementary school.  Sierra Harvest is changing the way that students eat.  Students are trying new, delicious, healthy foods and they’re asking for it at home and in their lunches.

These bold and beautiful leafy greens for the Harvest of the Month tasting were provided by Mountain Bounty Farm, a 50-acre, organic, family farm located high on the forested contours of the San Juan Ridge near Nevada City.  They currently cultivate 16 acres, growing an incredible diversity of vegetables, fruits and cut flowers, and the rest of the land is a beautiful mosaic of forest and meadows.  Mountain Bounty is also the oldest and largest CSA farm in Nevada County.  The collard greens were harvested, bundled and delivered freshly rain-washed for students to enjoy.

But eating Collard Greens fresh and raw is just one way to enjoy them. Collard Greens are also delicious steamed, boiled, braised or sautéed.  They are a traditional side dish in Southern cooking and so much so that in 2011 legislators in South Carolina voted to make Collard Greens their official state vegetable.  There are even Collard Green festivals held every year in cities like Atlanta and Savannah, GA.

One of the best ways to get to know these Collard Greens better is to enjoy them is a deliciously tasty recipe. Cooking Collard Green softens their texture and smooths out their flavor.  Enjoy this recipe for a Quick Collard Green Sauté courtesy of Paula Deen.

Quick Collard Green Sauté: 

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

  • 1 large bunch collard greens
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper, ground
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don’t need to be stripped. Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant. Add the collard greens, and sauté until bright green, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken broth and cook until the liquid evaporates, another 2 minutes.