Smoky Collard Greens

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

Collard greens, sturdy and leafy cousins to broccoli and cabbage, are showing up everywhere this time of year — in CSA boxes, at farmers’ markets, and in food co-ops. Collards are delicious stir-fried with a little bacon fat, but for those who are trying to keep it light, here’s a variation — also delicious — that calls for smoked salt to achieve a smoky flavor without the additional fat.

Collard Greens
Serves 4 to 6

2 tbsp Canola oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch collard greens, stems removed
4 c water
1 tbsp smoked salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste OR hot pepper vinegar on the side (see recipe below)

  1. Slice the collard greens into a chiffonade by stacking them, rolling them into a tight cylinder, then slicing them into thin strips.
  2. Over medium heat, heat the Canola oil in a large pot.
  3. Add the chopped onion. Saute until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  5. Add the collards, water, salt, and vinegar. Season with black pepper. Add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes (if using).
  6. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  7. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes until the greens are tender.
  8. Serve with hot pepper vinegar, if using, on the side.

Hot Pepper Vinegar
Makes 4 c

6 to 8 hot chiles (jalapeño, cayenne, or banana)
4 c apple cider vinegar

  1. Wearing rubber gloves, wash chiles under cold, running water.
  2. Make 2 or 3 slits in each chile with a paring knife.
  3. Pack the peppers tightly into a sterilized jar (or jars, depending on whether you are using pints or quarts — either will work).
  4. In a sauce pan over high heat, bring the vinegar to simmering.
  5. Pour the hot vinegar into the jar(s) containing the peppers.
  6. Tighten the lid and refrigerate for three weeks.

The hot pepper vinegar will keep for a year in the fridge.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis