I’m a bit jealous of the newest generation of vegetarians. I think it’s great and all to see more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle, but having given up meat myself around 1993, I see how easy the newly veganized have it, and yeah, there’s a touch of envy.
Back when I went veg Whole Foods was nearly unheard of, I didn’t know of any vegetarian restaurants, and if I wanted some tofu or other exotic ingredient I’d have to get mom to take me on one heck of a road trip. Then there was school. I wasn’t aware of any other vegetarians in my class and there was a bit of teasing and kids waving baloney in my face in the lunchroom while singing New Age Girl.
It was tough being a veggie kid in the nineties.
Even in my teens I loved to cook, so of course I signed up for all the cooking classes. During a regional foods lesson one day another student was covering the American south and brought in a bunch of collard greens. That got me excited. My excitement grew throughout the preparation of the greens, up until that sad, sad point (to me) when the student doused them in bacon grease.
I didn’t bother with collard greens after that, thinking bacon grease had some kind of exclusive license to them…until well into the 2010’s when my boyfriend told me about an amazing dish a friend made for him a while back involving collard greens with rice, beans and plantain chips. “No bacon grease required.” He informed.
I’ve recreated that dish for this post. I’m relieved to say that it turned out to be bowl-licking scrumptious, adding a new and delicious meal to my recipe collection and giving me what I’d like to consider something of a happy ending to my high school woes.
The fried plantains add some amazing sweetness and texture to this dish, but if you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner, you could skip them and the meal will still be delicious.
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 2 ripe plantains, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil, divided
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can or 1¾ cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- juice of ½ lime
- 1½ tbsp. ground cumin
- ½ tbsp. ground coriander
- 1 medium bunch of collard greens (about 6 leaves) slices into strips
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Cook rice according to package directions.
- In large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. oil over medium heat. Arrange plantain slices in a single layer and cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. The plantain slices had a tendency to stick for me, so I found it helpful to gently de-stick them using a spatula after the first minute or so of cooking. After that the sticking didn't seem to be an issue.
- Transfer cooked plantain slices to a dish covered with a paper towel, to drain any excess oil.
- Heat remaining 2 tbsp. oil in another (or the same) skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion and sautee until soft, about five minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add beans, broth, lime juice, cumin and coriander. Simmer until most of the liquid is dissolved, which should take 5-10 minutes.
- Add collard greens and simmer just until wilted, about another 3 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water if the mixture gets too thick.
- Divide rice onto dishes, top with bean mixture, then with cilantro and plantains.