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Quick and easy vegetarian collard greens

Collards cooked quickly, with olive oil and lemon. Not slimy at all!

It takes a village to make a plate of collard greens. Well, it took my village to make this plate of collards. 

Stephen, a regular user of our Little Free Library, loves to cook and has a large garden in the Fenway near the Museum of Fine Arts. Recently he brought me a wonderful gift of a huge bag of collards fresh from the garden. Believe it or not, I've never cooked collards, because I've never really loved them (too slimy, and usually made with ham hocks, which I don't eat). So I asked for recipe advice, and Stephen suggested the typical long cook time of 2-3 hours, with smoked turkey in place of the ham, or maybe smoked paprika. I knew I wouldn't like the texture of long-cooked greens, and then Ana, who owns the Greek market across the street from my house, gave me her recipe: quick sauté in lemon and olive oil. Boom. That idea really appealed to me, and so I tried it, adding some Greek seasoning to perk it up. No smoked meat, or liquid smoke, and no more slimy collards! I liked them this way, and I hope you do, too.

Garden-fresh collard greens, quickly sautéed with lemon and olive oil.

Quick and easy vegetarian collard greens

From the pantry, you'll need: extra virgin olive oil, lemon, fresh black pepper.

Serves 4-6.


10-12 cups fresh collard greens, trimmed, ribs removed, and cut into1/4-inch chiffonade (yield: 8 cups or so)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp Greek seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
Fresh black pepper, to taste


Place the cut collard greens in a large mixing bowl, and cover with cold water. Use your hands to agitate the water (try to keep most of it in the bowl!), to loosen the dirt that clings to the leaves. Carefully drain the water, and fill the bowl again. Agitate again. Let the bowl sit for a few minutes, so the dirt will sink to the bottom.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Gently lift the collards out of the bowl, in batches, and let most of the water drain off them. Place in the frying pan, and continue until all of the greens are mounded into the pan. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the green have wilted just enough to fit comfortably in the pan, about 2 minutes. Season with the Greek seasoning and half of the lemon juice. 

Cook for 1 more minute. The green will still have some firmness. Remove from heat, taste, and add the remaining lemon juice plus black pepper, and either more Greek seasoning, or some salt, to your own taste.

Serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More dark leafy greens:
Breakfast casserole with kale, bacon, mushrooms and onions, from The Perfect Pantry
Spinach, golden raisin, and Parmesan tart, from The Perfect Pantry
Southern style collard greens, from Simply Recipes
Collard green chicken salad wraps, from The Kitchn

Cook collard greens fast, with olive oil and lemon.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Love chard, love kale... collards, not so much! Hoping this recipe changes my mind. :)

Yes, yes, yes! The lemon sounds great! I simply saute in olive oil and garlic, and then add any splash of liquid and steam with lid on for a quick tendering couple minutes and gobble. Soy is a great liquid, but lemon sounds like a fun brightener too! Thanks!!!

Janice, I feel the same way. This was a new taste for me.

Cary, adding some garlic would be great here. The lemon was nice and bright, and the "salt" came from the Greek Seasoning. which also has a bit of garlic in it.

Mmmmm, I love collard greens. I've cooked them most in soup (with ham), but recently I started using them in collard wraps; they're kind of like lettuce wraps kicked up with more nutrition! This recipe sounds great!

I like this recipe. Thank you.

Kalyn, when you use them for wraps, do you steam them first, or eat them raw? I'm intrigued!

Liz, you're welcome.

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