Collard Greens Salad with Sweet & Spicy Sesame Dressing (Fresh Food Fridays)

Happy belated Thanksgiving composters! Hopefully everyone has come out of their food comas from all the rich turkey day indulgences, but it’s time to get back on a healthier track before the next round of delicious holiday meals comes around (and hits you like a ton of Santa cookies). I’m here to help with that!

The weather is finally starting to cool down, meaning the winter greens like collards, cabbage, and kale, are ready for harvest and and plentiful at the local farmers markets and in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.

This past week in my Swallowtail CSA I received more winter greens than I can handle — but I’m not complaining.

Needless to say I’ll be eating a lot of salads for lunch for the next couple of weeks. This week I’m working with two bunches of collards — almost two pounds — that’s a lot of greens!

Collard greens are amazingly beneficial to your health, with an endless list of vitamins and minerals, they are known to be good at helping to lower cholesterol, promoting our body’s anti-inflammatory and detoxification systems — which puts them in the same category as superfoods like kale.

However, the most common way of eating collard greens is definitely not the healthiest, and actually negates the beneficial aspects of eating this green.

We all love collard green soup, and collard greens sauteed in butter with bacon or some other type of pork, but not everyone wants all of that extra fat, and well, meat.

These cooking methods really just mask the unique taste of collard greens with meat, which can happen a lot in dishes where the main ingredient is a southern staple.

“How else would you cook collard greens?” is the question I’ve been asked lately when thinking of how to eat collard greens in a fresh way.

You might think it’s a little crazy to eat collard greens raw, but the dressing in this recipe tenderizes the thick, fibrous and mildly bitter leaves so you can enjoy these greens for what they are.

Butter and bacon don’t make the cut for this recipe, so here you are, Collard Green Salad with Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing!

What you will need:

1 bunch (8-10 oz.) fresh collard greens

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger root

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. local honey

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sesame oil

2-3 Tbsp. sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. butter

Step 1: Create the dressing. Mix together the apple cider vinegar, both oils, honey, red pepper, finely grated ginger (be sure to peel the ginger before you grate it — and compost the skins!) in a bowl with a whisk. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, or just salt to taste. Set aside for greens.

Step 2: Toast the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds with the butter in a small pan on medium heat until they are a nice toasty brown. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 3: Clean your collard greens and other veggies. Make sure you wash the collard greens extremely well, or your salad can end up being gritty, which you always want to avoid. Cut off the stems, and also cut the leaves entirely off the central stem that continues throughout the leaf. This part is really tough and not the best for salads.

Fold the collard greens leaves to make cutting easier, and slice the leaves into thin slices. Compost those stems!

Step 4: Place the collard greens into the bowl with the dressing, and massage the dressing into the greens — with your hands. This is the best way to tenderize the greens with the dressing. Do this for about 30 seconds.

Step 5: Chop the tomatoes. (Compost your tomato scraps.) Mix the tomatoes into the collard greens.

Step 6: Sprinkle the salad with the toasted seeds and goat cheese. Serve up and enjoy!

Optional: Cheese. I’m using a crumbled goat cheese for this recipe, but you can also get away with using feta or even blue cheese.

As I mentioned before in our first FFF recipe, these acidic cheeses do a great job of toning down the earthy taste in our greens!

Glades Ridge Dairy at the Union St. farmer’s market sells five different flavors of goat cheese along with many other great local goat products, including fudge — yum!

To learn more about bike-powered food waste diversion in Gainesville, FL, click here.

Thanks for reading,
Krissy Olson

About the Author

Krissy studies Sustainability in the Built Environment at the University of Florida. Her love for organic gardening and support for local food systems grew through her studies and Community Supported Agriculture. Krissy is the Community Outreach Coordinator at Gainesville Compost.