My last Post was about the Southern States’ New Years Day tradition of Hoppin John, Greens, and Corn bread. The black-eyed peas in the Hoppin’ John represent the coins. The green color of the green represents the color of dollar bills and the corn bread represents ‘gold’ – they’re the same color. I had never made greens before and for some dumb reason felt intimidated by them. And I had never really liked eating them before.
They always seem mushy and slimy so truth be told I’ve been greens-averse until December 31, 2013 when I went out shopping at the local grocery (which happens to be Whole Foods) and I saw a beautiful display of collard greens and I just thought – ‘what the heck.’ I took the leap. And there I was the very next day with the same 2 pounds of collards that I had purchased the day before.
Only that morning, just 24-hours later, I just wasn’t feeling it. Burdened by the greens. And then I remembered two of my New Year’s resolutions. . . Keep it happy. Positive attitude. And I hunkered on down and got those greens washed and cut and off I went to cook them.
Vegetarian Collard Greens
(a slight riff on tradition)
2 pounds of Collard Greens (even more would be better but it depends on how many people you’re cooking for) – washed and cut into 1-inch square (ish)
1 big glug of olive oil in a Dutch oven or pan with a lid
1 large yellow onion chopped
2 small cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and chopped finely
2 tsp Chipotle flakes (my secret weapon – and see Temecula Olive Company)
6 Cups of vegetable stock – I use home made –(it makes all the difference in the world but go ahead and use boxed or canned if you don’t have home made). My favorite vegetable stock recipe is in Mark Bittman’s book “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” (See the post “Books I Love” on the Resources page).
4 tomatoes seeded and chopped salt and pepper
In the Dutch oven, over medium high heat, put in the glug of olive oil and sauté the chopped onions until almost soft – about three minutes. Add the chipotle flakes (or red pepper flakes) and the chopped garlic. Cook for another minute. Add in the chopped collard greens and cook for yet another minute or two. The greens should be compressing in the pot. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the greens are as tender as you would like them to be. Taste the greens and add salt and pepper sparingly but until the greens are tasty. Toss the chopped tomatoes on the top of the greens and cover again. Serve, making sure that each person gets greens AND tomatoes.