Collard Greens

Think of Miami and many things might pop into your head - CIS Miami, South Beach, the 1980's crazy crack lifestyle on Miami Vice. All very urban, and urban usually means lots of concrete and little green space, especially in the inner city.

Roots in the City is a nonprofit organization working to change that image for residents in the inner city district of Overtown. It has already provided jobs and beautified the neighborhood with native trees and plants, and has a lovely field of collard greens that are sold locally. I was lucky enough to snag a whole heaping bag full on a tour a few months ago.

I've grown up eating collard greens, especially on New Year's Day with black-eyed peas for good luck and wealth in the coming year. The greens represent the dollar bills and the peas the coins. A very good reason to eat your greens. My boss, who also got a bag, is Cuban and was faced with making collard greens for the first time in her life. She asked me what to do with them. So I described the traditional way of making collard greens - boiled for a long time with ham hock or other pork fat, some salt and pepper. The hardest thing about making collards is cleaning them.

Of course, I wasn't going to eat them this way. I don't eat pork, or any other meat except fish. So I decided to half the HUGE bundle and made two varieties. One was very simple: boiled in salted water with a few tablespoons of oil until a beautiful bright green. I added a little pineapple hot sauce after cooking. These greens were very sweet and so good they really didn't need anything.

The other half got smothered. I sauteed garlic and onions in a little oil, then added the greens and let cook for a few minutes. Then I added coconut milk and green curry paste and let simmer away until the greens were tender and the liquid had reduced by half. Delish!

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