Collards: A Traditional Southern Delicacy

— Written By Janice Fields and last updated by

After having collard slaw at the Tavern in Old Salem last summer and, more recently, a collard wrap at the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair, I developed a new respect for collards. I began thinking about how I could convince people to try new ways of preparing collards. Both the collard wrap and collard slaw were delicious. The collard wrap was a mixture of collards and sausage in an egg roll wrap that was, of course, deep-fried. It was, after all, being served at the fair. I can’t help but somehow take partial credit for this inventive recipe, since the cook is a former student of mine. Surely, I instilled the desire to try something new. Oh well, maybe not. But her collard wrap was awesome! The collard slaw I tried in Winston-Salem was vinegar-based and really delicious. Since we are now in the midst of collard season, I decided it’s time to try something new.

Another use of the valiant collard green, which I haven’t tried this yet, is as a wrap stuffed with your desired filling. Be sure to remove the big bulky stem. For those of you looking to reduce carbohydrates, this is a tasty way to do that. You get beautiful color, nutrition, and texture wrapped in one little package.

In addition to great taste, collard greens supply a long list of nutrients including vitamins A, C, K, and folate, as well as calcium and fiber. I love collards most any way they are served. Fatback, bacon, or ham hocks add flavor but contain saturated fats that are not generally part of a healthy diet.

The following two recipes were hailed as delicious at our last Cooperative Extension Advisory Meeting. One must keep an open Southern mind, since the collard is not cooked. Both contain equal amounts of cabbage and collards, sliced super thin and chopped. The first is a Tangy Collard Slaw. It is tossed in a vinaigrette made of sugar, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. The second recipe, Creamy Collard Slaw, is made with a dressing of mayonnaise, sugar, and lemon juice. Both provide a delicious crunch for the palate.

Creamy Collard Slaw

For slaw:                                                                                For dressing:

3 pounds collard greens, rinsed and thinly sliced                   ½ cup mayonnaise

3 medium carrots, peeled and grated                                       ⅓ cup sugar

1 ripe apple, cored and grated                                                 2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup pomegranate seeds, plus more to garnish

3 pounds cabbage, shredded

½ cup walnuts, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Combine all the slaw ingredients in a very large bowl.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy.
  • Toss the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle the extra pomegranate seeds on top and serve. Once dressed, the salad is best served the day it is made.

Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

         Sweet and Tangy Collard Slaw

For slaw:                                                                                For dressing:

3 pounds collard greens, rinsed and thinly sliced          ½ cup apple cider vinegar

3 pounds cabbage, shredded                                                   ⅓ cup sugar

3 medium carrots, grated                                                         ¼ cup canola oil

1 medium onion, grated                                               1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 medium red bell pepper, diced                                         1 teaspoon celery seed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • Combine all the slaw ingredients in a very large bowl.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour hot dressing over the slaw mixture, stirring to coat.
  • Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Source: Adapted from

Create your own version. Use less sugar or no sugar at all by substituting stevia, stevia/sugar blend, or other sweetener of choice. Consider using less of the full-fat mayonnaise or a low-fat mayo. Try adding different fruits and/or veggies for a greater variety of nutrients, flavor, and color. Remember, eating a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables provides a richer array of nutrients, increasing good health and decreasing risk of diseases of the heart, diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. You can also find several recipe versions by searching “collard slaw” on the Internet. You could even alter your favorite slaw recipe by adding various amounts of cabbage and collards. Now get to the kitchen and try something new!

For more information on collards, please contact Janice Fields, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276 or by E-mail at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.