Coconut curry collards: Chef Vivian Howard's recipe reimagines a classic Southern green

Vivian Howard
Collards stewed with coconut milk and brightened with citrus and herbs will make you rethink this classic Southern green.

From “This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking,” by Vivian Howard (Voracious, 2020). 

Serves: 4

Hands on time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Chef Vivian Howard's recipe is inspired by Puerto Rican-born writer and cookbook author Von Diaz, who braised collards in coconut milk on an episode of Howard's show Somewhere South. The dark green, earthy and slightly bitter greens play well with mellow, comforting coconut milk.

Howard's version brings in green curry paste, ginger and onion, plus Howard's Citrus Shrine (get the recipe here), which lends a funky elegant brine. Herbs and lime juice at the end add another layer of flavor. Serve with rice for a heartier meal.


1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin (about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, sliced thin

¼ cup green curry paste

4 quarters Citrus Shrine preserved lime, white pith removed, pulp and rind roughly chopped

8 cups of tightly packed collard leaves, stripped of their stems and roughly chopped

2 (13.5-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk

¼ cup lime juice

Lots of fresh mint and cilantro to finish


In a 6-8 quart Dutch oven, sweat the onions and ginger with ¼ teaspoon salt in the oil over medium-low heat. Once the onions are translucent, stir in the garlic, curry paste and preserved lime and continue to cook for about a minute. Add the collards and the remaining salt and continue coating the greens with the curry mixture. They should wilt down a bit and glisten dark green. 

Pour in 2 cups of water, using that action to scrape up any browned bits that cling to the bottom of your pot. Stew, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the coconut milk and cook another 5 minutes, uncovered. Just before serving add the lime juice. Once the collards are in your bowl, throw the herbs on top and submerge yourself in their brand of tropical comfort.