Collard greens are a staple vegetable of the Southern table. As with turnip, beet, and mustard greens, they are typically cooked in broth flavored with smoked pork pieces (ham hocks, neck bones, etc.) and other aromatic flavors. In a departure from the typically long-simmered method of preparation, I created this salad to showcase collards in a raw state. The sturdiness of the leaves softens as they’re rubbed and massaged with salt and the dressing further softens them as they marinate overnight. The salad will be good when first made but for best flavor, plan to prepare it a day ahead.
Collard Green Slaw
Pork cracklings (fried pork skins) broken up on top add a nice crunchy alternative to croutons.
Yield: 10-12 servings
1 large bunch collard greens (About 8 qts.)
2 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt, divided use
½ cup lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 cup olive oil
2 yellow, orange, or red peppers cut into 1 ½” long julienne strips
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Pork Cracklins for garnish (optional)
Rinse and wash collard greens. Using a chef’s knife, cut the leaves away from the tough stem and center vein. Place the leaves in a large basin of cool water and wash again to remove any dirt and grit. Remove leaves from the water and drain well. Stack the leaves on top of one another and then roll lengthwise like a cigar. Slice the greens cross-wise into 1/4-inch wide strips. Drain the strips well in a colander and place into a large salad bowl. Sprinkle the sliced collards with 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt and gently knead and rub into the greens. Set aside to allow the greens to soften and wilt.
In a 1-quart mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, black pepper, and shallots. Whisk to dissolve the salt. While whisking vigorously, drizzle the olive oil into the lemon juice in a thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Add the peppers and grape tomatoes to the collard greens and toss with the salad dressing. Refrigerate overnight if possible before serving.
Garnish top with Pork Cracklings before serving.