Zesty and Zippy Tangled Collards

January 28, 2014
8 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

Last year for my birthday I was gifted Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy. It is chock full of gorgeous recipes and botanical information on a vast array of vegetables. One of the recipes I found most intriguing was "Tangled Collard Greens with Sesame". The greens are cut into thin shreds so they sauté tender within minutes. I took the technique and ran with it, cooking it with more American seasonings like garlic and red pepper flakes. My sister suggested I add Mama Lil's pickled peppers, bread crumbs, and Parmesan to the dish, based on a kale salad served at Ava Gene's and Roman candle. (Mama Lil's original pickled peppers are mildly spicy Hungarian goathorn peppers pickled and packed with oil and garlic. They are seriously delicious, so if you happen to spot a jar, immediately add it to your shopping basket.) The outcome is a tangled pile of hearty, zesty, spicy greens that cooks up lickety-split. Once the prep on this dish is done, it will cook in about 10 minutes, making it pretty perfect as a side for a weeknight meal. —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

Hardlikearmour's Zesty & Zippy Tangled Collards will have your taste buds doing a happy dance. Crunchy, spicy, and tangy, these collard greens will appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. A quick side that can be prepared in under 20 minutes, and pairs perfectly with pork or chicken. It has enough flavor and substance to stand alone as a great meatless Monday entree! - Amanda Heckert —ALHCulinaryCreations

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mildly spicy pickled peppers (Mama Lil's preferred)
  • Zest from 1 large lemon
  • 2 ounces microplaned Parmesan (about 3/4 cup, lightly packed), plus additional to garnish
  • 12 large collard leaves (more if the leaves are smaller)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, homemade (see note below)
  • 3 to 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 3 to 4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (depending on the level of spice from the pickled peppers and your personal preference)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice
  1. A note on bread crumbs: I like to use Melissa Clark's technique for transforming dried bread into crumbs. She grates the bread using the grating blade on her food processor which creates a blend of coarse and fine crumbs. It's a great way to use dried-out bread.
  2. Prep all of your ingredients, and have your mise en place set up. Mix together the pickled peppers, lemon zest, and Parmesan. To prep the collards: Fill a sink with cold water. Holding each leaf by the stem hanging vertically over the sink, use a sharp chef's knife to cut the leaf from the stem so you get 2 leaf halves. Don't fret if a small amount of the leaf center stays attached to the stem, just discard it and move on. Swish the leaves in the sink to remove dirt. Working in 4 or 5 batches remove the leaf halves from the sink, giving each a shake to remove most of the water -- the remaining water will help to steam the greens. Stack the greens on a cutting board so the cut ends are on one side. Starting at a narrow end, tightly roll the leaves. Cut into crosswise shreds, about 1/8-inch thick (no more than 1/4-inch thick).
  3. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering add the bread crumbs and stir to evenly coat with the oil (there will probably be a few crumbs that don't get oiled, which is fine). Stir frequently to continuously until most crumbs are dark golden brown. Transfer crumbs to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring continuously, until garlic is fragrant and just starting to turn gold, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the collard greens and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss the collard greens, then cook, tossing the greens occasionally until they are wilted and tender, and the water has evaporated. This will take 5 minutes or less. Add the pickled pepper, lemon zest and Parmesan mixture. Stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper if needed. Spritz with lemon juice then either transfer to a serving dish or divide onto dinner plates. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and about half of the bread crumbs; pass the remaining crumbs or save them for another use. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • erinrae
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
  • KirstenS
  • cookinginvictoria
  • aargersi
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

8 Reviews

erinrae January 8, 2022
This is great, made to go with Hoppin John and polenta, it was glorious. Easy and highly recommend!
Lindsay-Jean H. October 25, 2016
This is delicious! Also, it makes a seriously great topping for pizza (I just skipped the bread crumbs and added blobs of fresh mozzarella).
KirstenS February 15, 2015
At this point in the winter, I'm desperate for new or different ways to cook greens and I was totally intrigued by this recipe. Pickled peppers?? Really? It was terrific! The pickles made the greens so bright, and the parmesan gave it a bit of funk. I served it with roasted butternut squash, and we ended up tossing the two together on our plates. I'm looking forward to having the leftover under a fried egg for lunch this week. YUM! Thank you!
cookinginvictoria October 23, 2014
I love this recipe and have made it many times. Glad to see it has been named as a CP!
aargersi January 28, 2014
I have to make these - for myself and also for Flo who is a nut for greens and will love this rendition!
hardlikearmour January 28, 2014
Let me know what you think!
EmilyNunn January 28, 2014
Yessiree! This is what I want to eat right now. Thank you!
hardlikearmour January 28, 2014
I had some for brunch today :-)