When I think of collard greens, I usually picture them simmering in a huge pot of salted water with some ham hocks. You know, the sort of thing your granny might tend for a few hours in her housedress before church and serve with Sunday lunch.
Those are Sunday greens.
You don’t want to make Sunday greens for New Year’s Day. You have better things to do, like making fun New Year’s resolutions (“Visit Graceland!” “Develop a flair for profanity!” “Take up topless square-dancing!”) and NOT wearing a housedress. Ever.
But you do need some greens. On New Year’s Day, greens in your belly means green in the bank.
That’s why I’m making a big bowl of New Year’s Good Luck Dip.
This is a warm, creamy dip, fully loaded with a pound of collards, plus onion, red bell pepper and garlic. Instead of hovering over your greens for hours, you combine them with these ingredients and wilt them over the stove for 10 minutes. Then stir in some low-fat cream cheese, cheese and light sour cream; add some crumbled bacon; and bake the mixture for 10 minutes.
Done and done.
Now, I know my mama is out there dialing the phone, ready to accuse me of “Rachael Ray-ing” these collards. Because collards are supposed to take hours. OK, after 20 minutes of cooking, no, these collards are not soft and mushy, like you’re probably used to. They’re still pretty firm and chewy, more like cooked kale. The recipe works, because you remove the stems (and thicker veins) and finely chop the greens before you add them to the pot.
I love this dip with vegetable strips, baby carrots and cucumber slices, but it would be just as good with chips or crackers. You could even make collard crostini by toasting some baguette slices and using the dip as a spread.
True confession: I heaped a big spoonful on my baked potato.
Someday, maybe I’ll slow-simmer a mess of greens. But today, I’ve got to find some square-dancing shoes.
New Year’s Good Luck Dip
Adapted from “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book”
Makes 12 to 14 (1/4 cup) servings; calories: 104 per serving
- 2 slices bacon
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped (3/4 cup)
- 1 lb. fresh collard greens, trimmed of stalks and veins and finely chopped (6 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 8-ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), cubed and softened
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) low-fat Monterey Jack or Parmesan, shredded
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a 12-inch skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towel. Set aside.
- Discard all but 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings from skillet. Add onion and sweet pepper to skillet, and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add collard greens and garlic; cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add cream cheese, cheese, sour cream, salt and red pepper flakes (if using) to the collard mixture, stirring until combined.
- Crumble bacon and add to collard mixture.
- Spread mixture in a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Serve with vegetable strips, chips or crackers for dipping. Or, spread it on slices of a toasted baguette.
Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure to use GF light sour cream.