After all the debauchery of the holidays, also known as all the wrong type of carbohydrates, refined sugar, alcohol and all that 'other' general bad food that everyone* partook in, I was craving something basic, nutritious and delicious. For some reason [southern roots] collard greens always come to mind when I am in this state. They are hearty, packed full of fantastical vitamins and just tasty.
The traditional dish is black eyed peas and collard greens. Yes. Traditionally it is also served on New Years Eve. I served it two days after New Years Eve and I made it with white beans instead of black eyed peas. There was a reason for the latter.
Contrary to what I thought while I was at the store, I apparently did not have 'a bag of black eyed peas' in the pantry. Refusing to believe that I didn't have the little buggers stashed somewhere, I proceeded to tear apart the entire pantry and then came to the conclusion that, with the exception of my ipod, there was not a black eyed pea to be found in the house.
So while I sat on the floor, amongst the rubble that used to be my perfectly organized pantry, heaving from my efforts of totally annihilating the neatly stacked rows, I uttered a cursory 'well sh*t'. Then I got up, carefully stepped over the gi-normous heap of pantry whatnot, plucked a bag of white beans out of the mess** and got started.
*Just me? Perhaps...
**Initially I was going to leave the giant mess for Honey to clean up; then I realized that would be completely rude so I left it for him to marvel at when he came home and then I cleaned it up.
Note: Plan this meal 24 hours in advance.. to soak the beans
Yield: about 6 servings (with leftover beans... stay tuned for what to do with those leftover beans)
Also... so so good when served with the amazing Vegan Cornbread (recipe coming soon)
2 cups dry white beans (you can use black eyed peas if you're awesome enough to have them in the pantry)
Water to soak beans
3-4 cups vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons oregano
1 Dried New Mexico Chile (Mine came from an amazing sample pack from Marx Foods... check them out!)
1 teaspoon(ish) salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh collard greens
Soak beans in plenty of water overnight. I use the crockpot bowl that I will then cook the beans in the next day.
Once soaked, drain beans and return to crock pot. Add vegetable broth, oregano, chile, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.
If you're home, you can stir occassionally; if not, no worries. That is one of the joys of this meal... it basically cooks itself.
When beans are al dente, turn the crock pot off but leave the lid on.
Fold each collard leaf in half lengthwise so the stem protrudes from one side. Using your knife, run it alongside the stem, down the leaves, removing the stem and leaving the two leaf halves. Repeat for each leaf.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the onion. Saute on med/high heat for 2-3 minutes then add the chopped garlic. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
While onions and garlic are cooking, pile two or three leaves at a time on top of one another and slice horizontally into about 1/2 inch strips.
Add collard strips to onion/garlic mix and stir to combine. Reduce heat to med/low, cover and let cook for 3-5 minutes then open stir and add salt and pepper. Return lid, reduce heat to low and let cook another 3-5 minutes until fully wilted.
To plate, start by piling some greens onto your plate or into your bowl. On the side, spoon a good portion of beans. Finish with hot sauce, if you so choose and, of course, the fantastic vegan cornbread.
The spice from the chile is perfect; not too spicy but just enough to give you something. Along with the coolness of the collards, it's a perfect pair. Add the cornbread with some Earth Balance and Agave Nectar on the side and you have a completely fantastical meal.