Collard Beans: A Happy CWB Gardening Experiment

OK, so this post is more of a story than a recipe. And the reason for that is because you have to be a gardener (or know one) to get your hands on the raw ingredients for what I’m about to share. If you’ve grown kale, broccoli, collards, or cauliflower and let them go all the way to seed, you’ve seen these little guys before. If you aren’t a gardener or have never let your brassicas go to seed, you might just think this is cool, so keep reading. 

Toni and the Giant Collard Stalk

We had a giant collard plant growing in the back yard for close to 8 months, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. It was invincible. It survived a slug infestation, powdery mildew, and many aphid attacks. This thing had a stalk coming out of the ground as big around as the thickest part of a baseball bat, and it just kept on growing! 

After a while, having grown tired of trying to keep up, adding collards to our nightly meals (and even sharing some with friends and neighbors), we just stopped paying attention to it and let it run wild. Eventually as the weather grew warmer, the collard finally called it quits and went to flower. But seriously, when this thing started to sprout and flower, it did not stop growing. Sure, it stopped making new edible leaves, but it grew to be taller than I am! Week after week we kept saying we needed to go pull it, but its little yellow flowers were attracting a ton of bees, so we just left it.  That’s when the gardening experiment began. (An experiment born out of equal parts laziness, love of bees, and curiosity)


collard beans, a gardening experiment


A few weeks ago when it was time to turn over some of the crops in the back yard and plant the seedlings I’d been growing in the garage, I glanced over at the collard giant, and noticed tiny little bean pods all over the plant. I snapped one off and tossed it in my mouth. It was sweet and delicious; a little grassy with a hint of collard-y bitterness. I couldn’t believe it! Yum!

Collard beans!collard beans, a gardening experiment


Admittedly, the labor to pull these tiny beans off the stalks of the bolted collard is a little ridiculous. It took more than one sitting, even with Loren helping, just to pick the best looking ones. But after we were done, we had a giant produce bag full of tiny little green collard beans. I rinsed them, blanched them, and sautéed them with avocado oil, green onion, and a touch of garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. At the table, I topped them off with freshly grated Romano cheese. The first batch was a little bitter, so when I made them the second time, I added some salt and vinegar to the blanching water and actually cooked them in there for a few minutes longer than a typical blanch — I didn’t boil them to death, but I did boil them slightly. That did the trick. This simple little throw-together recipe works great for green beans too, by the way!

collard beans, a gardening experiment

This is about half of the total bean count!

We feasted, and the teeny beans were delicious!

SO, if you’re a gardener and don’t plan to harvest your brassica seeds for planting next year, give this little number a try! You’ll get one more use out of your bolted plants before you have to start over for the next season! Just plop yourself down in front of your favorite show or turn on your favorite podcast and start snippin’!


collard beans, a gardening experiment

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