This collards and polenta dish marries Southern charm and Italian flavors

  • Braised Collard Greens With Chicken Sausage Over Polenta.

    Braised Collard Greens With Chicken Sausage Over Polenta. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

By Ellie Krieger
The Washington Post
Updated 2/15/2019 7:13 AM

This recipe is my riff on one from Virginia Willis' new book, "Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover's Tour of the Global South" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), in which she explores Southern favorites through the lens of the incredible cultural diversity of the region.

That global influence explains how tomatoes and a rind of Parmesan cheese made their way into her braised collard greens. Her recipe could be dubbed a literal melting pot, except rather than cooking her greens long enough to "melt" them, in a more modern style she braises them until just tender.

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We prepared them together when she was a guest on my Facebook Live feed (which I do most Wednesdays at 4 p.m.), and while we prepared the dish together we bandied about many possible variations on her mouthwatering recipe. One that stuck in my head was the idea of turning it into a main course by adding Italian sausage and serving it over polenta.

Because polenta and grits are both cornmeal porridges, it seemed a fun and tasty way to take the Italian-Southern food connection a bit further. So I went for it, and this recipe is the result: A comforting, richly savory stew with a heap of healthful greens and enough lean poultry sausage to ratchet up its satiety factor as a main dish. Served over polenta, it makes a fulfilling meal that brings together a world of wonderful flavors.

• Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author who hosts public television's "Ellie's Real Good Food." She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at

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