Calabria is located in the southernmost “toe” of Italy. Its cuisine is noted by a balance of meats, vegetables, and pasta. Often the food is preserved in olive oil to protect it from the heat of the region. This dish is simply called “Calabrese” because the collard greens are lightly coated with olive oil during the cooking process.
This recipe is inspired by one for mustard greens that I found in Food and Wine magazine and contributed by Chef Michael Chiarello. You could certainly use mustard greens for the recipe or even turnip greens, chard, or whatever you like. I just happened to grow collard greens in my garden this year and they are still growing!
Calabrese Style Collard Greens
- 6 pounds collard greens
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Remove tough stems from the collard greens by folding them in half and cutting out the spine. Place greens in salted water and massage to remove grit. Rinse well. Next pile the leaves and roll tightly. Cut crosswise into ribbons.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add half the greens and cook, stirring a bit, just until tender, 3 minutes. Remove to a colander and rinse with cold water. Repeat with remaining greens.
Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed pepper flake and cook just until the garlic starts to color, about 1 minute. Add the greens and stir well to distribute the oil. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are heated through, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. transfer the greens to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Stir in the vinegar and serve.
NOTE: The collards can be made a day in advance, refrigerated overnight, and served still slightly chilled.