Monday, February 16, 2009

Basic Boiled Collards or Kale, p. 562

I grew up on an entirely different set of vegetable from what you can find in an American super market. Only recently have I started seeing some of these “exotic” vegetables (Chinese water spinach, snow pea shoots, and Chinese long beans) being served in non-Chinese restaurants. But these vegetables, along with about 15 – 20 others, mostly different types of leafy greens, were staples in my family. Needless to say, since we hardly ever ate American vegetables, I am unfamiliar with many of the vegetables you find in regular grocery stores. For example, I had never eaten a turnip until I had them at my mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving one year. We also never ate beets, parsnips, chard, collards, or kale. Don’t get me wrong, we shopped in the local Shop Rite for groceries. But my parents would drive into Chinatown pretty much every weekend to buy Chinese vegetables and various other ingredients only found in Chinatown.

As a result of being exposed to all these leafy greens, I have a great love for them. Imagine the amount of intrigue kale held for me when I first noticed it at the grocery store. I had always wondered about how it would taste, but the Chinese value the tenderness of a vegetable and kale doesn't look particularly tender. Yet, I was still intrigued because it is so green and frilly. (I like frilly things.) So I decided to bite the bullet and purchased two bunches of kale to serve for a dinner party.

It just so happened that 3 of my cousins and one cousin-in-law were coming to dinner and it turned out that none of them had ever had kale either. I boiled the kale using Bittman’s recipe, and tossed it with some sautéed garlic and olive oil at the end. I think all of my cousins really enjoyed it. And now I think I’m ready to introduce kale to my parents and hope that they will assimilate this very healthy American vegetable into their diet.


  1. These are so good. I make them all the time for us - we like the version w/ capers and garlic the best.

  2. So where the actual recipe???

  3. Dear Anonymous, this recipe can be found in Mark Bittman's cookbook, How to Cook Everything, page 562.