Wintertime yields cold temps, but Louisiana gardens can still produce nutritious vegetables such as collard, mustard, and turnip greens. These garden greens are definitely a favorite in the South–not only can they be prepared a number of different ways, but they are also packed with vitamins, minerals and contain fiber, while being very low in fat and calories. These dark green leafy vegetables are high in vitamins A and C, and contain some calcium and iron. When selecting, avoid the greens with yellowing or holes; for collard and turnip greens, select the small, firm leaves. With mustard greens, you should go for the small leaves to throw into salads, and medium to large leaves for cooking, but avoid those with tough, thick stems. Cook the greens as soon as possible after picking or purchase–they will last about two days wrapped in paper towels and/or plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Rinse greens well as they tend to be a little gritty. For a nutritious meal that is sure to please, try this black-eyed pea and collard green soup recipe.
2 Cups Dried Black-Eyed Peas
2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Large Rib Celery, Finely Chopped
1 Large Carrot, Peeled and Cut Into a 1/4-inch Dice
8 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Smoked Ham Hock (Optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
1 Bunch (about 3/4 Pound) Collard Greens, Ribs Removed and Thinly Sliced
1/2 Pound Ham, Cut Into 1/2-inch Cubes
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
Hot Sauce, To Taste
Salt And Pepper, To Taste
Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover by 3 inches with cold water. Set aside for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and celery and sauté until soft and translucent; about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, peas, broth, ham hock, thyme, bay leaves, and collards and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves and ham hock. Pull any meat from the hock and chop into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. For a slightly thicker and creamier soup, smash a few peas against the side of the pot. Add the diced ham and heat just until warmed through. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 6 to 8.
For more information on this or other nutrition and food safety topics, please contact the Rapides Extension Office of the LSU AgCenter at (318) 767-3968.