JJ Johnson, Harlem chef and subject of our recent video series New Chefs Rising, has a cookbook out that you’re going to love. Dive into his unique style of fusion fine cuisine, with Latin, Southern and island influences that are a sight to behold and a wonder to savor. This collard green salad is a masterpiece of flavor and textural balance. Here’s to your health!

Every few months, some food magazine or blog pops up the same tired headline: “Are Collard Greens the New Kale?” No. Collards have worked harder than kale ever will. Collards are out there digging ditches and roofing houses while kale goes to spin class and leaves early for brunch. Collards are natural antioxidants, rich in vitamins A, C, and K, full of fiber and low in calories. But—and this is a big one: collards have a long history of being a vegetable that people only cook the crap out of. It’s braised and simmered within an inch of being edible and, well, that’s got to stop.

Our friends always eat this dish and say, “Isn’t this a kale salad?” The goal is to serve the greens raw so that we think of them as a something healthy and delicious rather than something you combine with bacon fat and cook down. Collards have a natural bitterness, and the elements of this recipe balance those strong flavors with sweetness and spice: sweetness in the coconut milk, spice in the smoked chipotle. There’s a brightness to the dressing that perfectly balances the bitterness of the collards and will give your guests the benefit of enjoying everything collards have to offer. To me, this dish is simplicity done well.

Reprinted with permission from Between Harlem and Heaven