Feature Veggie: Collard Greens

This is an article about collards as much as it is about my grandma. When I think of collards, I think of my 90-year-old Portuguese grandma growing and cooking her own fresh from the garden. Collards, or “coves”, are a staple for the Portuguese. Generally, each household grows their own supply.  My "Avo" (Grandma)My “Avo” (Grandma)

In rural villages and in cities, collard plants grow tall after many harvests. They can grow taller than you and are often planted in front and backyards. The younger generation has different food and lifestyle habits: fewer plant and cook for themselves, and many don’t eat collards. However, I’m sure we could learn a lot from the Portuguese mothers and grandmothers, like my own ‘lil stubborn one! Those that have cooked for everyone, keeping the country alive and healthy for so long.

Portuguese grandmothers are strong-willed and aggressive in their cultural food beliefs. (They have to be: Portuguese men would just be drinking wine and conversing politics all day without them, forgetting why they can even use their brain optimally in the first place!) They know the health benefits of collards and understand there aren’t many local vegetables they can incorporate into their diet throughout the whole year. Like many other greens, collards are packed full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and are stand-outs for their cancer-fighting abilities.

How will they make collards into proper food (Portuguese cuisine)? One way is the “Caldo Verde” soup. Traditionally, the main meal of the day starts with a flavorful simple soup with a potato or squash base and only a few ingredients. The Caldo Verde is a potato-based soup (some of you already know this from the last week’s recipe!) with collards that are julienned and placed in right before serving. My grandma, who still to this day feeds my uncle every lunch and dinner, will swear by her homemade soups and his good health.  Heat tolerant and cold hardy, these big plants will keep standing strong throughout the year. Portuguese grandmas and your farmers here at Lettuce grow them year round — you’ll be sure to see these powerful, well-loved greens often at home in your kits.

Marisa Silva is a member of Lettuce’s Farm Team and oversees our compost operation. 

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