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Calling All Collards; Better Greens for a Healthy New Year

Written By Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie Denicole On January 5, 2011

collard_greens3Without employing the dreaded d-word, you can still resolve to make the New Year a healthier version of those other ones. We understand, we feel your pain—we, too, have transgressed and trounced upon the very notion of self-denial and delayed gratification. It’s just all so inhumane and cruel, these annual pronouncements to endure lemon-dressed lettuce leaves and low-carb cardboard.    

Which is why is makes far more sense to be resolute about loving each and every morsel you place in your mouth. Besides, nurturing yourself and those around you with healthful, delicious fare is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
We adore this dish not only for its fantastically (skin-glowing) healthy components, but for its savvy sense of balance: flavors, textures and rich color in concert. Traditionally cooked to death with a greasy hunk of fatback, our Sicilian-esque collard makeover is yummy with grilled wild salmon or a simple side of nutty, wholegrain brown rice.

Calling All Collards with Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries and Balsamic Vinegar
Serves 4

1/4 cup pine nuts
2 bunches collards
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons golden raisins

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until golden brown, shaking occasionally (about 5 minutes); set aside.

Thoroughly wash the collards and drain, allowing some of the moisture to cling to the leaves. Using a sharp knife, remove the central rib from the leaves and discard. Cut the collards into bite-size pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the greens, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the vinegar and dried fruit, stirring to combine. Cook for 2 minutes more and serve garnished with toasted pine nuts.

Diva confession:  Toasting pine nuts can be risky biz for determined multi-taskers. For this reason, we advise toasting at least a cup to squirrel away for life’s more hectic moments. Toasting pine nuts just makes them nuttier—and therefore yummier. They embolden an ordinary stir-fry or salad or kick up a favorite herb pesto or rice pilaf. And they’re insanely good for you, with more protein and fiber than the average nut.   The edible seed of the pine, shelled varieties become rancid after just a few weeks. To maximize freshness and flavor, store them in the freezer until ready to use.


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