Paula’s Spring Greens

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By Paula Deen

This month we’re going green down here in the South—and I’m not talkin’ composting and recycling. You see, each year Savannah plays host to the second largest St. Patty’s Day celebration the country has to offer. Nearly half-a-million people flock to our little downtown for the purpose of eating, drinking and being merry. Everything is dyed green—from the hair on people’s head to the fur on their dogs’ back. The city even goes so far as to dyeing the water in our fountains!

My backyard is no exception to the March greenin’ trend. There are truckloads of delicious spring greens covering every inch of my garden. It’s overflowing with fragrant herbs, thickly leafed collards, delicate salad greens and bushels of Swiss chard that somehow managed to survive all winter long. If Heaven has a garden—and I’m thinking it does—I swear it must look like mine right now. Lush, green and beautiful. I can’t bear to let a single heavenly leaf wilt away, so I’ve got to put ‘em to some good use.

And I know just where to start. Home-cooked collard greens have always held a special place in the hearts and bellies of Southerners. For the New Year, I simmer them down with meaty ham hocks or salt pork and eat ‘em for good luck and fortune (because the cooked leaves resemble folded money). But Southern families actually feast on them all year round; it’s in our blood. There’s just nothing that warms my heart more than watching my grandson shove a forkful of greens into his mouth and then ask for more. He’d choose his grandmomma’s greens over a boxed cookie any day. I hear some people complain about the pungent smell of greens cooking on the stove, but I consider it a test of your Southern breeding. If you can’t stand the smell, then you best get out of my kitchen. At least until dinner’s served.

As for all those crisp salad greens and fragrant herbs, well, don’t go thinking that I’m going to turn over a new leaf and start eating rabbit food. I’m too set in my ways. I have a hard time calling anything a salad unless it’s made with mayonnaise or Jell-O. But my recipes for Citrus Salad and Spinach Salad with Hot Blackberry Walnut Dressing change all that. I take those delicate and sweet salad greens and dress ‘em up in surprising ways, changin’ that bowl full of rabbit food into something you will remember. As for those fresh herbs, I plan on chopping them up to make a wonderful herb butter (1 stick butter mixed with 1 tablespoon of your favorite herbs) that will dress up any ol’ biscuit.

This St. Patty’s Day, I think I’ll skimp on the partying and instead spend a few quiet hours tending my overflowin’ garden. But I won’t miss Savannah’s Grand Parade. I get so excited seeing the marching bands play and the crazy folks waving from their floats. And I always get choked up when the service men and women who protect our freedoms come marching by. My favorite part is running up on our troops, to plant big, lipstick kisses on their cheeks. I think they’re a little surprised when they realize that Paula Deen is puckerin’ up, but they’re good sports. That’s what this season is all about. Celebrating. Having fun. Appreciating our blessings in all their many forms, especially the green ones.

Get the look! Paula Deen Apron, available at retailers soon. Paula Deen Signature Wood Salad Bowls, available at Wal-Mart.

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Reader Comments:

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I always enjoy reading the things that you write about. Thanks much.

By ann potter on March 08, 2014

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I recently tried your strawberry cream cheese french toast with the home made strawberry syrup. I made it for brunch for Memorial Day for my son, his fiancee and my husband. It was fantastic! It was wonderful to find a dish that was so tasty and still okay for my diabetes. Thank you so much. Any other diabetic dishes that you have come across would be very much appreciated. I'm so glad that summer is coming so I can get back to fresh greens for salads. The stuff they try to sell here in winter months... *shudders* just hard to take - plus they charge more since it's out of season. Anyway, thanks Paula. I've always enjoyed watching your shows and picking up cooking tips, and now I watch your sons & learn even more. HUGS!

By Beth Hunt on May 29, 2013

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I love everthing cook because it look so good

By Anonymous on November 16, 2012

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that story about the greens is to late paula be brave you can cook whatever you want.

By Anonymous on February 02, 2012

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Hi Ms. Paula: I love your show, your website/newsletter and those wonderful recipes!!! Everything that I have tried using your recipe has turned out delicious! I was born in the North, but raised by Southerners so my cooking is very southern and its so nice to see my Grandmothers southern cooking traditions carried on by you. I love you Ms. Paula and your family and may God continue to Bless and keep you all in his grace. Talk ya'll later Love Mikki

By Mikki Hardwick Lett on April 05, 2011

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You look cleaner at cooking vegetables than I do. Love Your Site!

By southern living on March 18, 2011

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By southern living on March 18, 2011

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By shirley McDowell on March 13, 2011

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I want the recipe for Red Velvet cheesecake.

By lillie on March 10, 2011

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i love your recipes.

By sue wolf on March 09, 2011

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I used to make your pork roast with plum sauce. I can not find the plum preserves any where. What can I substitute for the perserves? I love that recipe and so does my family. Help.

By Arlene Smith on March 08, 2011

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I am GREEN with envey reading about your garden filled with some many wonderful choices to eat! I have to close my eyes and dream of such beauty as everything here is stilled covered with snow with more still to come.

By Misha on March 08, 2011

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I love to read you emails, and I really enjoy your recipes I watch your show everyday It comes on 2 times in a row every weekday. I love how you have your sons cooking with you and keep things down to earth , so country and friendly ... Have a great day Paula from my home to yours smile

By Gale Powers on March 08, 2011

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Paula Deen
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love the table paula would look good on my new patio. so glad you are back. I hope to get there to see you in person one day.i will start tomorrow to find the patern form the tablecloth.
Gladys Rainesl in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I just want to say this I don't even know if is the right page all I ever wanted to say to Paula Deen welcome back I have missed you. You are my favorite home down girls keep your head up and hang on and feel the love. P.S. from a woman of color.
in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I just love love love the table and flowers and am so glad that I can still access all of Paula's recipes, her family life, Bobby's lighter versions and Brandon's beautiful work. Truly thankful to see such beautiful tablescapes. You guys are my heros.
Patricia in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 9:14 am