The trick to quick-cooking collards (which are typically braised slowly for tenderness)is cutting them into very thin slices. All these need is a quick spin in a hot pan with olive oil to give them a delicate texture and a deep,toasty flavor. This whole recipe takes less than 20 minutes to prepare.
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Trim the stem from each collard leaf with a sharp knife, dividing the leaf completely in half lengthwise as you cut away the stem. Discard the stems; wash and dry the leaves.
Stack half of the leaves and roll them up tightly crosswise into a cigar shape. Using a very sharp knife, cut the collard “cigar” crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Use your fingers to unfurl the slices, which will be tightly curled together. Repeat with the second half of the leaves.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and the garlic over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and flipping the garlic, until it’s fragrant and just lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the pepper flakes, stirring to distribute in the hot oil, and immediately add the collards and 1/2 tsp. salt. Using tongs, stir and toss the collards until they’re coated with the oil, and continue tossing until they are slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Most of the greens will have turned a bright green, with some beginning to turn a darker green. Do not overcook, as they will become tough. Take the pan off the heat, drizzle on the maple-vinegar mixture, stir well, and transfer to a shallow serving platter. Serve immediately.
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