One of my favorite and most fulfilling ways to spend a day is to hang out with kids and enjoy food. This week I got to visit 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders with bushels of collard greens, and 2 dishes of collard greens prepared different ways. Sautéed  greens with garlic and olive oil and sea salt, and a collard slaw with cabbage and carrots, apple cider vinegar, mustard and cayenne.

Many students didn’t know what it was I was holding out in my hands to show them. Some guessed spinach, lettuce, kale, brussels sprouts, others guessed celery and cauliflower. All of their guesses were great, because  collard greens have something in common with all of these vegetables. Their attention was peaked – they really wanted to know.

We did this in science class – where the students are learning about growing and composting foods. They have started to grow some carrots and are looking forward to making a garden. We came to help them consider what they might plant.

The students learned some history about collard greens, how they help our bodies that we stretched and twisted in learning. We talked about chlorophyll and photosynthesis. And then of course the students tasted the greens. At the end, when I asked the students what they had learned they had really great answers:

That I like collard greens! That they could taste so good! That they like the cold and the cold makes their leaves sweeter! That they are good for our lungs and our liver and our bones! That they are good for the whole body! That they feel rubbery but taste great!…

How to make great sautéed collard greens:

Wash the leaves, then cut out the stems. Stack the leaves in a pile, then roll the leaves and slice with a sharp knife very thin strips. This helps to break down the cellulose walls, making them more digestible.

Chop up some garlic if you like it (can you ever have too much garlic, really?), and add to some olive oil in a pan. Add the leaves to the pan. The water on the leaves will help the cooking process and if they get too dry, add more water.

Top with sea salt and saute until soft and wilted. They should be beautiful and bright green.