The Best Collard Greens Substitutes

Collard Greens Substitutes

In Australia the only time I’ve seen collard greens was when I grew them in my garden. If you’re struggling to find these delicious greens, here are my favourite collard greens substitutes…

What are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are a leafy green vegetable most commonly grown in the Southern areas of the USA.

They’re a part of the brassica family which includes broccoli, kale and cauliflower. Like all good brassicas they’re packed with vitamins and fiber.

They can be eaten cooked or raw. Although best to only use younger more tender leaves if eating raw.

The Best Collard Greens Substitutes

(in order of preference)

1. Kale
In terms of flavour and texture kale is the closest match to collards and can be used interchangeably.

2. English Spinach
The most common green, English spinach or spinach has a more green ‘spinachy’ flavour. And the leaves are much more soft and delicate. However if you just want to add some cooked greens to a dish, spinach including defrosted frozen spinach is a good collard greens substitute.

Spinach isn’t great eaten raw though so don’t use it in recipes where the collards are uncooked.

3. Baby Spinach Leaves
If your recipes calls for raw collards, baby spinach is your best bet. The thing to note is baby spinach is more delicate so you won’t need to massage and probably won’t need as much dressing.

4. Swiss Chard / Rainbow Chard (Silverbeet)
Similar to English Spinach the chard family is great in cooked collard recipes. The stems of chard are larger and stronger in flavour than collard greens stems so you may like to compost the stems or use for another dish. Or cook the stems separately – expect them to take longer than the leaves to soften.

Unless your chard is super young and tender, it will be too bitter to eat raw.

5. Mustard Greens
While these have a strong hot mustardy flavour when raw, once cooked they taste a lot like collard greens. Texturally similar too. And packed with nutrition!

Young mustard greens can be lovely raw if you like a little heat.

6. Chinese Broccoli
While the stems are much thicker and the leaves are smaller, Chinese broccoli does taste similar to collard greens. Not a good choice for raw collard dishes due to the thick stems.

7. Broccoli Raab / Sprouting Broccoli
Not as leafy as collards, however a good collard greens substitute for cooked dishes that include the stems.

8. Turnip / Kohlrabi Tops
Slightly different in flavour, these green tops of fellow members of the brassica family can be used instead of collards. If the leaves are young and tender they can even be used raw.

How to Prepare Collards

To use raw
Wash, dry and finely slice the leaves with or without the stems. If you leave the stems in you’ll be in for a lot of chewing!

I like to toss the leaves in a little salt and lemon juice and allow them to soften for 30 minutes or so before dressing and serving raw. Or sometimes I toss in a salad dressing and let it stand for a least 10 minutes and preferably up to 30 minutes.

If you’re short on time, massaging the greens with your hands can help speed up the softening process. Seriously it’s a thing.

To cook
Rinse with cold water but no need to dry. Layer the leaves on a chopping board and then roll to make a sausage shape. Slice about 1cm (1/2 inch) thick.

To cook, add a little olive oil and a few tablespoons water to a large saucepan. Add the sliced greens and cook covered for 5-10 minutes or until the greens are wilted and tender. Season generously with the salt because it masks the bitterness often associated with these greens.

I also like to add a splash of wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon to add freshness.

How to Store Collard Greens

I keep mine wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will keep for about a week like this, depending on how fresh they were when you bought them.

I have had collards from my garden last for 3-4 weeks in the fridge!

If the leaves start to yellow, just discard them and eat the green ones.

Delicious Collard Greens Flavour Pairings

  • Bacon & Collard Greens
  • Chorizo & Collard Greens
  • Pork & Collard Greens
  • Sausages & Collard Greens
  • Lemon & Collard Greens
  • Garlic & Collard Greens
  • Olives & Collard Greens

More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x


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