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Virginia Farm Flavors: Collards

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

I’d like to take the next few blog posts to continue on with our series on Virginia farm flavors for those neighbors of ours who may be new to the area or who would maybe like to get better acquainted with fresh, seasonal produce. It’s always important to eat what’s in season - we know this (if you’d like to read up more on the importance of eating seasonally, check out this blog post). But this can sometimes be pretty hard to abide by, especially when we’re in the middle of the summer and we’re craving spring peas, or in the winter and we’re living off of our storage crops like cabbage and winter squash. While I’ll forever love Virginia the most, her weather isn’t always perfect - the summers are hot and muggy to the point where paper stops allowing ink to mark it and the winters, though mostly mild, can have pockets of days that are so cold and dark you’d swear you’re a member of the Donner Party (I might be dramatic). However, with the rising temperatures of the summer months, this part of Virginia has a hard time growing a lot of fresh greens - you may even see a dip in our bagged greens availability. But as much as we try with our shade cloths and our diligent irrigation systems, the summer months have a different plan and we have to switch focus to something that will soak up the summer sun and grow successfully. Last week, we talked about summer squash. This week, we’re gonna switch gears and look at a produce item that’s a farm stand staple pretty much year-round. While other greens may have already given up, collards are going strong and will continue to be here, ready to be used in one of the so many southern recipes that feature this beautiful brassica. Collards have been cooked in the south for centuries for their high nutrient content (collards are also high in fiber) as well as their adaptability. Beyond traditional collards recipes (those that incorporate fatback), collards are also an excellent addition to every quick summer stir-fry or even raw as a tortilla replacement for a wrap sandwich. I love to make falafel and wrap it up in a fresh, raw collard with tahini, cucumbers, and carrots. It’s quite possibly my favorite summer sandwich.

Ways to enjoy collards:

- Traditional “mess o’ greens” style

- In a soup

- Fresh and shredded in a salad

- Collard chips (like kale chips but with collards)

- Southern Carbonara (or if I’m being honest, I just add collards to mac and cheese to add a green to my guilt)

- As a wrap

- With a risotto

- Collard Slaw

How do you enjoy your collards?

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