Have you ever had Couve a Mineira?
I love collard greens. I love them cooked until they are tender and melt in your mouth; I love them in soup to give added color and texture; I love them sauteed, when they give you back a good crunch. I've had them prepared in a few ways but until three years ago, I had never had Couve a Mineira, Brazilian Garlicky Collard Greens. My world has never quite been the same. Tasting this side dish is what opened my eyes to all things Brazilian food. What's funny, is that it is the most simple dish: in ingredients, in its preparation, and in its execution. Now that I am familiar with it, I just can't get enough. People just don't know how good Brazilian food is! I'm so grateful that my local CSA provides collards all season. It's become one of my "go to" veggies.
Growing up in New England, as part of a Peruvian and European
American family, I did not grow up eating collards but was introduced to them first through eating Soul Food as a teenager. While collard greens origins begin in Greece it is enslaved Africans that have been credited with bringing the greens and cooking techniques to the Americas: to Jamestown,VA in the U.S. and to Minais Gerais, Brazil, where the dish Couve a Mineira originates.
These two style dishes could not be more different. Soul food-style
greens are cooked down until they are tender with ham hocks or smoked turkey neck, vinegar and spices. Simple Brazilian-style greens are sauteed for less than ten minutes, with only oil, garlic, and salt, leaving them bright green and crunchy. Sometimes pork or bacon will be used to flavor the oil. This is why, you might imagine, I fell in love! They are satisfyingly flavorful and textured and can accompany most anything. One day I planned on making this dish and I also had a bunch of carrots hanging around. I decided to add some julienne carrots to the dish and WOW was that a great idea! It brought more vibrant color, sweetness, and new texture. While it is not traditional, this is a welcomed variation of this dish at my family gatherings. I hope you agree! Give this recipe a shot and let me what ou think. Buen provecho, amig@s! Bom apetite!
Couve a Mineira -- Serves 6
2-3 large bunches of collard greens, stems removed
4 large carrots, julienned
5-6 large cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
Wash greens and remove the largest parts of the stems. Stack the leaves bunch, then roll them up like a cigar. Slice the greens into thin strips.
Peel carrots, then cut into pieces slightly larger than a matchstick. Cut them into small strip, like matchsticks.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok (I find a wok to be the best if you have it!). When hot, add the carrots.
Once the carrots are soft, add the crushed or minced garlic and a bit of the salt. Saute until the carrots begin to caramelize and the garlic is golden.
Add the greens and the remainder of the salt. Saute another 3-4 minutes. They should be bright green and have softened.
Optional: If you like a softer green, you can add 2 tablespoons of water and cover the pan, cooking for another 2 minutes to steam them.
Adjust seasoning, if necessary.