Spicy Collards & White Beans

There’s really nothing like a big ol’ plate of beans ‘n greens to fill you up and make you feel super-duper healthy. Although I never ate collards growing up, I’m so glad to have discovered them as an adult. Packed full of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, they make a great nutrient-dense side dish.

For meat-eaters, the classic pot of stewed collards features ham or bacon — ugh. I’m skipping right over the typical salty, smoky flavors in favor of something lighter and a little more heart-healthy: a brothy, spicy pot of collards and beans. Steven and I chowed down on our collards with dry-fried tofu in a miso-maple sauce; they’d also be great with grilled tempeh or even some seitan sausages.

Spicy Collards & White Beans

Spicy Collards & White Beans
Serves two

  • 1 bunch collards, de-stemmed, rolled, and cut into ribbons
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion (about 7 oz), diced very finely
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups no- or low-sodium vegetable broth (I use a salt-free homemade broth)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 8 oz cannellini beans (about half a can)

In a large saucepan or small stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are starting to get translucent. (You can prepare the collards during this time.) Add the vegan Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup and stir to coat the onions and garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, then add the collards and broth to the pot. Bring the greens to a boil and then reduce the heat.

Let the greens simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, checking them occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t boiled away. (If it’s getting low, add a few tablespoons more broth or water.) After 30 minutes, the liquid should be much lower, but the pot should not be dry at all. Add the beans to the pot, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more red pepper flakes if it’s not spicy enough for you. Eat!

Note: If you’re using canned beans, feel free to throw the whole can in there — you’ll just have a higher bean-to-green ratio. Not that that’s a bad thing…!

Bad-Mood Food

I did not have a fantastic Tuesday. It started out just fine, but by the end of the day, I was in a rather dour mood. Everything annoyed me – my skirt kept clinging to my tights in an irritating fashion; my office was cold and I was shivering; I had a headache… you know, typical #firstworldproblems. My life’s so tough, right?

I left work “early,” meaning “right around 5:00,” which meant I was caught in that post-work rush of people leaving campus, which meant I had to deal with traffic, which meant I became even more annoyed during my drive home. (Of course, my version of “traffic” means “more than five cars lined up waiting to turn,” so take that complaint with a large grain of salt.) Whilst waiting in “traffic,” I decided to take advantage of my otherwise-empty car by yelling colorful language quite loudly, and by the time I got home I felt slightly more chipper. However, the thought of making dinner did not appeal to me. Luckily, I had an easy out stored in my freezer: Gardein buffalo wings.

Generally, I’m fairly ambivalent about fake meat. I never crave it, but neither do I shun it completely. I enjoy it every once in a while as a novelty; I like variety in my diet. So when the buffalo wings were on sale at my co-op last week, I thought, why not? And on that bad-mood Tuesday, all I wanted was some sort of easy, tasty comfort food. Enter the wings.

Wingzorz!

I pan-fried these guys and served them up with the Pineapple Collards from Appetite for Reduction. These organic collards also came from the co-op; I found them in the “not-so-hot produce” bin and snatched them up for mere pennies (okay, a dollar or so). I love the co-op’s idea of not-so-hot produce – I also bought five organic green bell peppers for $1.19, and they had nary a scratch on them. Score! Anyway, I had some frozen pineapple, so I thought I’d try to conquer my aversion to sweetness in otherwise-savory dishes and trust Isa. I’m glad I did, too – these were actually really, really good! They had a bit of a kick to them from the red pepper flakes and the ginger, but the pineapple provided a smooth, sweet counterpoint.

And the wings? Well, they were so-so. I’ve also had Gardein’s crispy tenders, and I really liked those. But these wings were a little boring, a bit too squishy and flavorless for my taste (although the sauce was mighty spicy!). Still, this was exactly what I wanted for my bad-mood dinner. Served with a side of oat-bread toast, I had a comforting, filling, and mostly healthy dinner. And after eating, my bad mood was reduced by 47%, give or take. Maybe I was just hungry all along. :)

What foods do you crave when you’re in a bad mood? Any thoughts on Gardein?