The Rest of the Collards


On 26 March we posted about making collard green kim chee.  One of the steps involved pulling the leafs off of the stems.


So the question was, could find any recipes using the stems?

Actually, i was able to find a lot of recipes online that used the collard stems.  So, one week after making the kim chee, we used the stems in two recipes.  We’ll go over them here, but first, let’s take a look at the progress the kim chee is making:


I came home on the 26th to find that the kim chee (which we actually put in the jar on the 24th) had bubbled over.  It was fermenting so strongly that it forced liquid out of the jar, past the seal, and all over the counter and floor.

I had to take some of the kim chee and put it in a different jar, and then top both off with water.

So a word of warning if you followed our recipe: leave some empty space at the top of the jar.

I tasted the kim chee at that time, and it was strongly hot (the whole condo smelled like hot peppers!), nicely salty, and starting to ferment and develop that sourness that we are looking for.  We used some on the evening of the 31st, one week after putting it in the jar.  It has started to get sour, and it smells like kim chee.  I think it is making great progress, but we will continue to let it ferment for another week or so.  Still, it is edible and very tasty right now.  And it looks great:


Moving on: what were we going to do with the collard stems?  I hate wasting stuff, so i looked up recipes online.

The first one that struck my fancy was this recipe for Congolese collard greens.  The video shows everything being thrown in a pot and boiled.  That sounded dull to me, so i mixed it up a little bit.

We had a lot of stems left, so i started chopping them into small pieces.  The thick part of the stem was chopped longer, meaning that theoretically each piece would weigh about the same.  About 2/3 of the way through the bag of stems, i had 4 cups chopped.


(The look kind of like broccoli stems, don’t they?  Several sources i found online said they had a similar texture and taste to broccoli.  I guess you could use these in anything that you regularly use broccoli stems in.)

I figured that 4 cups would be enough for this recipe, so i set the remainder aside for another recipe, which follows.

4 cups chopped collard stems
3 roma tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 PB2 powder (or 1/2 cup of peanut butter)
2 cups of veggie stock


1. Chop the onion into small pieces and sautee in the olive oil until they just start to brown.

2.  Add the stems to the onions.

3.  Chop the tomatoes and add them to pan:
COL2_CCGS_tomatoesInMix it all up.

4.  Now comes what makes it Congolese: peanut butter.  I had a jar of PB2 powder, which is dehydrated, ground peanuts.  I read somewhere that PB2 is what is left over after they make peanut oil at the peanut factory.  Either way, it is a concentrated peanut flavor that you can add to dishes without adding extra fat.  However, there is no reason that you could not add regular peanut butter, which is what the guy in the video did.

I mixed it all up, then added stock to cover the other ingredients, about 2 cups based on the pan i used.  If you use a different pan, you might need more or less.  The liquid is used to soften the tough collard stems and to help the flavors merge.

Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

5.  Take the lid off to allow the steam to escape, and boil until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.

When it was done, well, this wasn’t the prettiest dish i had ever made.


The peanut butter and tomato made everything look kinda brown.  Still, i had come this far, so let’s taste it.  I served it with rice.


Well, it was tasty.  There was a hint of peanut flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering.  The collard stems were nice and tender, and indeed did have a mind flavor like broccoli stems.

However, i felt it needed something…  The flavor was a little flat.  I probably should have added some garlic, or maybe a hint of vinegar to the stock.  Something to impart a little of that umami taste that just makes food wonderful.

Fortunately i have a collection of umami rich sauces and condiments, so we tasted this with these:
COL2_CCGS_condimentsThat garlic peri-peri sauce was a wonderful compliment, and since peri-peri is South African, it continued the sub-Saharan theme.  The lime pickle (a Gugarati product) added a wonderful sourness.  The garlic pickle (from Pune) is really really hot, which i thought worked with the creamy peanut sauce.  And finally, we tasted it with the collard green kim chee, which was good but probably would have been better if the kim chee was fully developed.

So my verdict is that this was tasty, but needed things added at the back end to make it really good.  The next time i have collard stems, i will doctor this recipe a little bit — adding a chopped jalapeno and several cloves of garlic.  A hint of vinegar might be good too.

I wonder if the Congolese do that too — is there some type of sauce that the people in the Congo would add when the serve?  I don’t really know much about the cuisine in that region.

Okay, that done, i still had some stems left, and i decided to pickle them!  I found this recipe, and since i was out of fresh dill, i took it in a slightly different direction.

2 tbsp sea salt
1.5 cups of apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups of water
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 sliced red onion
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 tsp dill seed
2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
about 2 cups of collard green stems



1. Take the first 5 ingredients and heat them in a small pan until the salt dissolves and the vinegar is hot.

2.  Take two jars and clean them and their lids.  In the bottom of each jar put:
1/4 sliced red onion
1/2 clove of garlic slices
1/2 tsp dill seed
1 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3.  Trim the stems to fit inside 2 jars:

Ideally these should be packed tight, but i ran out of stems before being able to fill the larger jar.  Oh well, pickling is like that.  As long as everything is under the liquid, it’ll be fine.

4.  Carefully pour the hot vinegar into the jars, then screw the lids on.


The heat of the vinegar should make the lids seal, but you can also run them through a water bath to can them, or just let them cool then put them in the fridge.  Note that pickling will take longer in the fridge.

We are going to let these sit for a few weeks, and will get back to you with how they taste!


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