Monday, January 9, 2012


I didn't eat collard greens even once (to my knowledge) until I reached the age of 25. Collard greens were a weird vegetable that only southern people ate, most likely drenched butter and definitely fried, right? And they weren't called collard greens, they were "call-ahds" or just "greens." The fact that they are related to cabbage and brussels sprouts made them even less appealing. What 9 year old in her right mind willingly eats a leafy green that kind of tastes like cabbage and looks like spinach.

At least that's what I thought until my sister moved to Brazil brought her Brazilian husband back to the US (yes, this is another Brazilian story) and then introduced to me to how delicious collard greens could be. Called couve in Portuguese (pronounced ko-vee), these greens are a common side dish served with rice and beans at many a Brazilian meal. My husband has fond memories of eating couve during the time he also lived in Brazil, and to say he was excited about figuring out how to make it is an understatement.

Our first task was identifying which vegetable couve actually was. The dictionary called it kale, but my bro-in-law and husband said the leaves didn't match (too curly). After perusing the produce section, we finally settled on collard greens and rushed home to douse them in a bit of oil and salt, resulting in one ecstatic husband.

The best way (and most authentically Brazilian) to prepare the leaves for this dish is to rinse them off and cut out the thick stem from the leaves. This is the most "arduous" part of the preparation. Then stack several leaves on top of each other and roll them up, starting with the round side. Slice the roll into 1/8 inch rounds. And then cook them. That's it. Really. Easy, right? To make your meal correctly Brazilian, serve your couve with rice (cooked with some garlic and salt) and beans (also cooked with garlic and salt). Top the beans and rice with a fried egg and you've got a common working class meal that I can't get enough of these days.

Recipe by Kelly
Pictures by Kelly

1 bunch collard greens, washed, rolled, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  1. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add collard greens and saute about 1 minute. Add tablespoon of water and cover. Let cook about 2 minutes (the greens should be a little wilted but not soggy). Add salt and serve.


Caroline said...

I could definitely go for some more greens in my diet. Thanks!

phin said...

excellent...I am very excited to try this out.

M said...

Yay! I love couve, but I never knew if we had the vegetable up here. This is an especially popular dish in Minas Gerias (couve รก mineira), and I was excited to eat it when I went to Ouro Preto for research. It's great to eat as a side dish to feijoada and rice. I'll have to try it out.

two little chefs said...

M, please do try it out and let me know if you think it's authentic. :)

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