Collard leaves are from the cabbage and broccoli family and similar in taste. Like other cooking greens, collards are highly nutritious.
Collard greens are the most popular vegetable in the Kashmir Valley, where they are called Haakh and are included in most meals. A common dish eaten with rice is Haakh Rus, a soup of whole collard leaves cooked simply with water, oil, salt, green chilies and spices.
For cooked preparations collards can be sauteed, blanched, steamed, or boiled. They can be rolled up in a wrap, stirred into soup, cooked into a stir-fry, pureed into pesto, in salads and slaws, sauteed with eggs or blended into a smoothie. Blanched leaves can also be wrapped around a filling, as with cabbage in stuffed cabbage rolls.
The stalks are very tough and inedible. Thinner, younger stems will be tenderer than larger, older ones. Rather than throw them away, use the toughest stems in your next batch of homemade vegetable broth!
While often used in long cooked braises, quick cooked collards can be equally delicious and may be more nutritious. Collard leaves need only about ten minutes to cook. Stems, will take longer.
When preparing collards, think kale. Like kale, collard leaves can be eaten raw as in thinly sliced collard coleslaw. These large, tough leaves offer a more mild flavor than kale and can be used in much the same way as other greens. Like kale, collards will retain some texture to them due to the amount of fiber in the leaves. Also like kale, they benefit from a liquid to help them soften and to cook all the way before they burn or stick to a pan.
Collard greens are hardy enough to be served all by themselves. They can withstand long cooking; they become a soft mass of mellow-flavored leaves.