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Kitchen MacGyver: Quick Tomato-stewed Greens and Garbanzos

When my husband had to travel to the San Francisco bay area for a weekend business trip, I knew it was my chance once again to cook a Godzilla-big batch of bitter greens. Although swiss chard and kale tend to be my favorite greens to cook, I opted for variety and tried a collard green stew. Usually associated with Southern comfort cooking, where collards are stewed for hours with ham hock or bacon rinds, I decided to concoct a vegan version (disclaimer: I ate my first installment with a healthy sprinkle of parmesan cheese, but my next couple of lunches were enjoyed just as much without animal products), stewed in sweet, acidic tomato sauce instead of pork fat. Not that there’s anything wrong with pork fat, mind you. There’s a tradition of cooking collard greens for two or more hours over a very low flame to help remove some of the bitterness, but I don’t personally mind the bitterness; I know what I’m getting into when I eat very dark, leafy greens, so I don’t see the need to simmer it to smithereens or add sugar.

Collard greens are nutritional powerhouses: They contain incredible amounts of vitamin K, A and C, as well as manganese, folate, fiber and lots of calcium.

Garbanzo beans add protein and, texture-wise, they’re like the body builders of the legume world—their firmness stands up well to the rigors of canning and cooking.

Tomato-stewed Greens and Garbanzos    

2 large bunches collard greens, washed, dried and chopped

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

Tomato sauce:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small white or yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced into small cubes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 large bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup hearty red wine (Note: Not all wines are vegan, but here are some vegan brands that I like: Yellowtail Shiraz, Red Truck California Pinot Noir, Trader Joe’s Organic Well Red)

1 can tomatoes (I like Muir Glen—but not the fire roasted variety for this recipe—or Cento San Marzano), crushed, or break up whole tomatoes yourself

1/4-1/2 tomato can of water

In a large saucepan or medium pot over medium-high heat, saute onions and carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to combine; cook for 1 minute. Add bay leaf, dried herbs and seasoning. Add red wine and cook until wine dissolves. Add canned tomatoes and water and stir. Add collard greens. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let cook, stirring occasionally for about 25-30 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and greens are wilted. Add more water as necessary. Add garbanzo beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf; you can serve with parmesan cheese if desired.