These savory, smokey collard greens and black-eyed peas include chili peppers and zesty seasonings for a slightly Southwestern kick.
With its simple ingredients and minimal hands-on work, this recipe is an easy weeknight dinner or meal-prep option.
Just serve it over rice or with cornbread for a classic, satisfying feast.
🥬 About this recipe
Collard greens and black-eyed peas are a classic combination that is often eaten for good luck on New Year’s Day. Variations on the theme are found throughout the Southern United States and constitute a soul-food staple.
Collard greens, in particular, have been closely associated with African American cooking and culture. If you are interested in this topic, writer and culinary historian Michael Twitty has an in-depth video program on the History and Significance of Collards in the South. It is a fascinating program, and I recommend taking a look!
As far as this recipe goes, I’m not making any claims of soul-food authenticity. In fact, traditional Southern greens are typically cooked for a much longer time, a method that yields soft, silky greens. Still, I think that it’s important to note that I likely would not be working with these ingredients at all were it not for the creativity and resourcefulness of generations of African American cooks.
In this recipe, the collard greens are cooked comparatively quickly in order to retain a tender-firm texture, and the peppers, cumin, and oregano shift the flavor palate to the West. Canned beans make this a quick dish to prepare, and it’s an easy weeknight dinner when served over rice or with a side of cornbread.
And if you want more recipes like this one, check out my Butter Beans with Tomatoes and Mustard Greens.
Sturdy, deep green collards are the foundation of this dish. They have a fresh sweetness and satisfying texture that can’t be beat.
When shopping, look for a bunch of greens with more tender leaves, rather than the thickest, most leathery ones. And avoid any bunches with leaves that are beginning to turn yellow.
Before cooking, make sure your collard greens are very clean, as they can hide a surprising amount of sand and grit. My washing technique depends on how clean the leaves are; if they look good, I just rinse them thoroughly.
But if the collards have visible sand or grit on the leaves, soak them in a large bowl of water, massaging them a bit and then leaving them to let the sand sink to the bottom. Empty the water and repeat until there is no grit at the bottom of the bowl.
You can tear or chop the leaves, and it’s up to you whether you want to leave the stalks and stems or remove them. I like to leave all but the toughest, woodiest stalks attached to the greens. When they cook through, they are tender and juicy, and their texture adds variety to the finished dish.
Black-eyed peas, like collard greens, are drought-tolerant and thrive in warm climates, and are also enjoyed around the world. They are rich in fiber and protein, as well as nutrients and minerals like folate and manganese.
I like to use canned black-eyed peas because they make this dish come together much more quickly than dry ones would. Just be sure to choose canned beans that don’t contain any animal products, as some canned black-eyed peas are seasoned with meat.
And if you are watching your sodium intake, you can cut the amount in this recipe by selecting beans that were canned without any added salt.
Onion and garlic
These ingredients perform the same function in this recipe that they do in so many others: they are the savory and aromatic foundation for the dish.
I’ve used red, white, and yellow onions in this recipe; you can choose whichever variety you prefer or have on hand.
This recipe suggests a range of amounts for the garlic, so you can tailor it to your preference. We are garlic lovers in my house, so I like to use at least six cloves in this recipe.
On the other end of the spectrum, three cloves would be enough to give a hint of garlic without being as noticeably pungent.
Poblano and habanero peppers
Poblanos are mild peppers with an earthy flavor. Cooking them alters their flavor a bit, making them sweeter and more mellow.
The poblanos that I find in my local supermarket usually have zero heat, but it is possible for them to offer a bit of a spicy kick. Even the spiciest poblanos will be milder than a jalapeño or serrano pepper.
If you want more heat, though, you can add as many hot peppers as you want. I like to add habaneros or similar peppers, thinly sliced so that the heat can be more evenly distributed throughout the dish.
Fire-roasted tomatoes are charred over a flame before canning. This gives them a sweet and smokey flavor that balances the earthy and bitter qualities of the greens and beans.
If you don’t have fire-roasted tomatoes, you can substitute fresh tomatoes or regular canned, diced tomatoes.
Herbs and spices
The herbs and spices in this recipe join the peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes in creating a hint of a Southwestern vibe.
Bay leaves and oregano lend spicy, citrusy, and earthy notes, while smoked paprika contributes a warm, smokey quality. Parsley, on the other hand, has a fresh quality that brightens up the stew.
Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Along with the liquid from the canned tomatoes, these ingredients form the saucy base of this recipe. Oil absorbs the flavors of the onion, garlic, peppers, and spices, allowing them to permeate the dish.
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are savory and gluten-free. They contribute an umami note that is similar to soy sauce, though milder.
And finally, apple cider vinegar’s fruity sourness brightens and enhances all of the other ingredients in this recipe.
Chop and clean the collard greens.
Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and poblano peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers begin to soften.
Stir in the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and paprika, and bring to a simmer.
Then, add the habanero, parsley, apple cider vinegar, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.
Carefully add the collard greens to the pot, folding them in as the greens that are lower in the pot begin to wilt.
When all of the greens have wilted enough to fully stir into the other ingredients, reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the greens reach the tenderness you prefer.
Taste and add salt and/or pepper, if desired. Serve with rice, cornbread, and Tobasco or a similar hot sauce.
🧰 What you’ll need
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