Brazilian Style Collard Green Salad
Raw collard greens? A a few brief years ago it would have hardly been comprehensible to most Americans, especially Southerners. But times have changed with the advent of kale salads. While many find the texture of kale objectionable – its curliness, if it is not cut finely enough, can get caught in the throat – this is not a problem with it the flat-leaved and more mildly flavored collard greens, especially given the method of slicing here: very thin slices, almost threadlike (even thinner than shown in the photograph). One bite of these sprightly green ribbons and their couldn’t-be-simpler dressing, and you’ll be a convert. If you can’t get collards, use lacinato kale, Sometimes called dino kale, it’s flat-leaf, not curly. Another plus: unlike a salad of more tender greens, such as mesclun, this dish is happy to wait, just as good an hour or two after being made as immediately. Another make-it-easy-on-the-host factor.
In some parts of Brazil, these greens are de rigeur with fejoiada, the the famed national bean dish packed with, as they say, “every part of the pig but the squeal” — and those parts not just fresh, but preserved in many ways (dried, smoked), some whole, some chopped. These accompanying greens lighten this dish, much in the way we perceive coleslaw as necessarily lightening barbecue. But the salad is every bit as good with the East-West Black-eyed Peas given here.
Make sure your slicing knife is good and sharp: the only trick, as mentioned, is slicing the greens very, very thinly. you can do this slicing the day before, packing the ribboned greens into zip top bags and stuffing them in the refrigerator until a couple of hours before the guests are due.
Two large bunches collard greens or kale, well washed, tough stems removed
Coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 lemons, halved
- Stack the leaves of collard or kale, and roll them up tightly the long way, making a firm green cigar-shaped roll. (You may have to do this in batches). On a cutting board, with your sharpest knife, cut as thinly as possible across the greens, making thin ribbons of green. This can be done up to two days in advance, if you store the cut greens in zip-top bags and refrigerate them.
- Up to one hour before guests are due to arrive, put the greens in your largest salad bowl. Drizzle the oil over them, then salt and pepper them well, and finally, squeeze the lemons over them (if the lemons have a lot of seeds, squeeze them through a strainer directly onto the greens).
- Toss well, then rub the greens between your clean hands a bit, to slightly wilt the greens and rub this minimal dressing in a bit. That’s it!