Southern Greens Lightened Up

Southern food speaks to my heart and sings to my soul! It’s right up there with Mexican food on my list of favorites. There are so many regions in the South and they each have their specialties. Most people assume it’s all deep fried but that is not true at all. What is true though, is that many dishes have pork fat as their base. When I was growing up, mom put bacon grease, ham hock or cubed ham in beans, potatoes and especially greens. I loved collard greens when I was a kid. Salty and smoky, they barely resembled a vegetable at all. Over the years I have found that Southerners still fix them that way. Although they are crazy delicious, they’re not very healthy. Years ago I started experimenting to find the perfect, healthy version that still has all the flavor. I have perfected 2 versions. The first one uses low fat turkey sausage. It’s for all you die hard meat eaters who need to make some changes and clean up your diets. The second is vegan, which is equally as delicious but scares away a lot of folks who don’t like the “V” word. For my picture and main recipe, turkey sausage wins but I have included instructions to make it vegan. Feel free to sub mustard or turnip greens if you like them better.

2 large bunches collard greens
4-6 cloves garlic
1 large sweet onion
1 pkg lean turkey sausage (uncured if possible)
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups water or veggie stock
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sriracha or chili paste (more to taste)
1 tbs brown sugar
splash of bourbon if desired
salt & pepper

Wash the heck out of the greens to get any dirt off. It sucks to bite into grit, trust me. Remove the fat part of the stalks by grabbing the bottom of the stalk and pulling your fingers up the leaf then snapping it off about midway up. Toss out the stalks. Chop leaves into 1″ pieces and set aside. Dice up the onion and brown it well in the olive oil. It should be a deep brown. Cut the turkey sausage and mince the garlic. Add both to the onions and cook over medium heat until the sausage sizzles and browns a bit. Add all the greens, the water, then the rest of the ingredients. As soon as it starts reducing in the pot stir really well, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to how you like it.
For the vegan version of this dish, which is what I usually make for myself, omit the sausage and dice 2 onions instead of 1. Sear them until almost burned. Increase the soy sauce to 3 tbs. I also add 1 tbs smoked paprika. They are really delicious!

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