Well, optional for you maybe. Me, I like a nice hunk of bacon nestled in there with some slow-cooked collards. I got turned on to eating them with a few shakes of the hot pepper vinegar on the counter at Lamar's, a greasy spoon I used to frequent in Biloxi.
For the longest time I cooked collards very briefly, just long enough to brighten them. But lately I've reverted to a Southern style recipe more like what I used to get at Lamar's and let them simmer a little longer till they turn darker. Those are the only kind of greens I do like that way, though. For everything else the briefer the the better.
I think the best way to wash greens is to half fill the sink with cold water and let them soak a while, then swish them around and drain in a colander. Something I've noticed when doing this – especially with collards and kale – are the beautiful silvery air bubbles than form on the leaf surfaces. They look just like little blobs of mercury. When I mentioned that to Nancy in this week's Food for Thought she wondered if I were high on something. Hmph.
"A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables."