[Raw collards dressed with olive oil, lemon, and garlic and marinated overnight. Photo by Jill Nienhiser for Farm Food Blog.]
A friend made this dish for a gathering and I really liked it. Have it only occasionally; see note about oxalates below.
- 2 bunches of raw collards
- About a 1/2 c olive oil (where to buy olive oil)
- Juice of one lemon (more if you like)
- 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed (more if you like it really pungent)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (where to buy salt and spices)
- Rinse the collards and shake off excess moisture. Strip the leaves from their tough center stems; discard stems. Tear or chop the collards into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients and toss. Adjust all ingredients to taste.
- Marinate the salad overnight in the fridge, to allow the greens to break down, soften, and absorb the oil and lemon. The greens will continue to soften over time, and it continues to taste good for several days (whereas a dressed lettuce salad is too soggy to keep).
Notes on collards and similar vegetables:
We hear a lot about how we should eat more dark leafy greens, and this recipe seems to fit the bill. However, collards, like many plant foods, have a high level of oxalates. Oxalates interfere with calcium and iron absorption and can irritate the mouth and intestinal tract. A diet high in oxalates from all food sources can even lead to kidney stones and other problems.
Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions says that oxalates are destroyed or
neutralized by cooking, and she recommends cooking all greens before eating them. However, William Shaw says oxalates are not destroyed by cooking (see the article below, “The Role of Oxalates…”). And in Chris Masterjohn’s review of The Perfect Health Diet, he relates a personal experience where he developed trouble from eating sweet potato fries (cooked) every day, and discovered his symptoms were from oxalates, which sweet potatoes are high in. So, if you really like this salad, great, but I wouldn’t eat it too often. (And not at all if you have had kidney stones or are prone to them.) Oxalates are just one of the many dangers of plant foods! Best to eat a very wide variety, and not have any one kind too frequently.
Check out these articles for more information on oxalates.
In addition, collards are in the family of “crucifers” along with other cabbage family members like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnip, bok choy, arugula, horseradish, radish, wasabi, and watercress. Raw or lightly cooked crucifers release substances called goitrogens. In small amounts, these substances increase the need for iodine, and in large amounts, can damage the thyroid gland.
Chris Masterjohn in Bearers of the Cross: Crucifers in the Context of Traditional Diets and Modern Science says that steaming or microwaving crucifers until “fully cooked” (he does not define this) can reduce goitrogens, but only by about a third. Since your digestive bacteria act on the crucifers and release the goitrogens, how much is released depends somewhat on the individual. Many people only briefly steam vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, so that may not have significant effect on the goitrogen level. Boiling for 30 minutes can reduce the goitrogens by
about 90 percent. Fermenting (such as for sauerkraut) does not reduce them.
So, raw crucifers should probably be eaten rarely, fermented perhaps a bit more often (since they’re usually eaten in small amounts as a condiment, and give you the benefit of beneficial bacteria). If you eat crucifers quite regularly, you probably should boil most of them for 30 minutes. (I can’t remember ever boiling a vegetable for 30 minutes!) In any case, best to ensure you get adequate iodine in the diet.
Reading that article was a bit depressing, since I enjoy lightly steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and kale; roasted or sauteed Brussels sprouts; and raw arugula in salad several times per month; plus this raw collards salad or cole slaw maybe once or twice a year. Plus probably weekly servings of sauerkraut, and
occasional raw radish, broccoli, or cauliflower on salads or crudite platters with dips. I wonder whether they all have equal levels of goitrogens (would love to find out arugula is lower–it’s my favorite salad leaf). If anyone knows about the relative levels of goitrogens in different crucifers, please let me know!
Filed under: The Food by Jill