Sunday Dinner: Cabbage, Collards and Kale

Cabbage and collards and kale. Oh my!

I’m not saying that if you regularly eat these you will be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but you will be healthy and smile more.

It’s fall, so it’s time for the fall vegetables, specifically the fall greens. You can often get these, which find their way from around the country to your supermarket, throughout the year. However, it is in fall and winter that local growers start bringing these to your local farm markets, or perhaps you have a few in your own garden.

And how good they are!

And healthy! There are other greens, but cabbage, collards and kale grown in our areas are the ones most anticipated.

All of these are high in potassium and Vitamins A, C, E and K. They are also low in calories. Cooked without any fat, one cup of kale has 36 calories, 3½ ounces of collards has 45 calories, and a cup of cabbage has 15.

It is generally believed that the darker green a vegetable is, the more nutritious it is. This doesn’t speak well for cauliflower.

If you buy them at the grocery, all three of these are good keepers in your refrigerator, although, as with any vegetable, the quicker you can use them once they have left the soil the better.

Collards take longer to cook than the other two, perhaps even 1½-2 hours. Cabbage takes the shortest time, and if you overcook it you’ll get a pink color. Don’t do that. Generally, the kale and cabbage will both cook in about 15 minutes. All three are cooked in a small amount of water and salt. You can add bacon drippings or salt pork, which improves the flavor — especially the collards, and especially if you live in the South.

To do this, simmer the bacon or the salt pork (a.k.a. fatback) in a small amount of water until tender, add the greens, salt and more water, cover and cook until tender. Using two knives and a criss-cross motion, cut the greens while still in the pot for easy serving and eating. Cutting the cabbage into small slices before cooking will eliminate this step.

Before cooking collards and kale, strip off the leaf from the center stem. You can cut this center stem into 1-inch lengths and cook separately, or you can put them on your compost pile for your flowers to enjoy.

It’s obvious that if you are ever going to amount to anything, you must eat cabbage and collards and kale, and that however you cook them, these three cold-weather vegetables are good for both taste and tummy. Plan to serve one of these this weekend for … Sunday Dinner.


Scalloped Cabbage

1 medium head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup buttered cracker crumbs
1 cup medium white sauce*

In a saucepan, combine the chopped cabbage and salt. Cover with boiling water and boil gently 7 minutes over medium heat. Set oven at 350 degrees.

Drain cabbage and place half of it into a buttered 9×9 baking dish and pour on ½ cup white sauce. Sprinkle with half the cheese and half the cracker crumbs. Repeat.

Bake 20 minutes. Cut into squares. Serves 8.

*White sauce: Melt 2 tablespoons butter, add 2 tablespoons flour and cook until it is blended and bubbles; heat 1 cup milk. Remove butter-flour mixture from heat; add the hot milk and stir quickly until well-mixed and thick. If mixture is not thick enough, return to stove and cook until it thickens.


Sweet-Sour Cabbage

4 cups shredded cabbage
2 sour apples
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons fat
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Core and slice apples, combine with shredded cabbage, salt and pepper. Heat fat in large skillet or saucepan and add the cabbage-apple mixture. Cook over low heat until tender. Sprinkle with the flour, then add the salt and vinegar. Cook a few minutes longer.


Boiled Kale

Option 1: Wash and strip leafy part from stem. Steam or cook in small amount of water. Bring water to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until tender. Add salt, pepper and butter, or, if your Southern palate shows, add a couple of spoonfuls of bacon drippings.

Option 2: Prepare as above, but add strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces) to the cooking water.


Creamed Kale with Onions

1½ pounds kale
10-12 small white onions, peeled
¼ cup shortening
3 tablespoons flour
1½ cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste (if desired)

Wash kale and remove large stem. Cook leafy part in salted water until tender (about 15 minutes). In another pan, cook the onions until tender (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, make a white sauce with the shortening, flour and milk. Drain kale and onions, and combine in a serving dish. Pour the hot white sauce over the mixture. Serves 6.


Collards and Potatoes

2 pounds collards
½ pound salt pork, coarsely chopped
2 quarts water
4 medium potatoes
Salt to taste

Coarsely chop the salt pork; combine with the water and cook on a slow boil about 30 minutes.

Remove and discard center stems of collard leaves and tear leaves into small pieces. Add collards to pot with the salt pork and water. Cover and cook about 1½ hours. Peel potatoes and add to pot with the collards. Cover and cook about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.


Panned Collards

Amount of collards needed to fit the pan
3-4 tablespoons bacon drippings
Salt to taste
Water only if needed

Prepare collards as above. Use bacon drippings, or cut and cook 2-3 slices of bacon in large skillet. Remove stems and cut or tear leaves into small pieces, then add the cut collards to pan with the salt. Cover. Cook on high until collards begin to steam, then reduce heat to medium or low and cook until tender. Stir frequently and add a bit of water if necessary.


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