He’s right, of course. This meal is very tasty -- one of my personal favorites. And just as it did him, it might surprise others who are new to the idea of meatless meals to know that vegetarian does not mean tasteless or unsatisfying. It’s perfectly possible to be nutritious, healthy and delicious all at the same time.
The heat is adjustable to personal tastes, and the medley of vegetables in the recipe lends plenty of flavor of their own.
It can also be a very quick recipe to get on the table if you happen to have a batch of cooked rice on hand (because you planned and cooked extra from another meal earlier in the week that called for rice, such as Jamaican-Style Lentils).
Using frozen greens, instead of fresh, further reduces the prep and cook time.
In fact, the only thing besides the rice that takes any time is the vegetable chopping. An experienced cook can get it done in about 10 minutes, but it will take a novice a bit longer.
But it will add quite a bit to your cooking time. However, using a pressure cooker shortens that cook time substantially, and is my recommended way of preparing legumes. (Instructions for how to use a pressure cooker can be found in my blog post here.)
If they’re not cooked in a pressure cooker, the beans should be soaked overnight and then cooked for about an hour until tender.
Sometimes the frozen version is actually the better buy, and since that is a perfectly acceptable choice to use in recipes, I will go with that.
I’m all about saving time whenever I can, particularly if the convenience doesn’t cost me anything extra.
And as I've already mentioned, using frozen vegetables will definitely cut prep and cooking time down for this meal.
Prepping Fresh Greens, If You Use Them
Fresh vegetables require more prep, of course, but it’s not hard to do.
If you are using collard greens or kale, you might first want to remove the leaves from the stems by running your hand firmly down the stalk (see pictures below).
But if the stems are not too thick, you don’t need to bother to do that. In that case, just cut off the thickest ends.
Then cut the leaves into strips and then crosswise into rectangles about 2-3 inches in size. (If you can, stack several of the leaves together so that you can cut them all at one time.)
Once the vegetables are cut up, fill a large bowl with water and wash the greens by swishing them around a bit. Let them stand for a minute or so to let any garden residue settle and then scoop them out into a colander. Empty and rinse the washing bowl, and repeat the washing process. For some greens, it might be necessary to do a third washing.
The fresh greens will be very bulky and take up a lot of room to start, but will reduce by about one half to two thirds in volume by the time they are cooked.
For that reason, if you opt to use fresh greens, I recommend using a big pot for cooking so that you can accommodate the greens.
Here’s the recipe:
Black-Eyed Peas and Spicy Greens
Makes 8-10 servings (can be halved)
Prep Time – Approx. 20 minutes
Start to Finish Time – Approx. 25-45 minutes
(depending on if you have cooked rice on hand and use fresh or frozen greens)
Total recipe cost – Approx. $8.50
Total per person cost with fresh bread and tossed salad – Approx. $1.50
4 cans black-eyed beans/peas
1 pound dried black-eyed beans/peas
4-6 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups uncooked brown rice
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
3 large stalks celery
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce (or to taste)
2 teaspoons black pepper
½-1 teaspoon salt (to taste – will vary if you are using fresh greens and/or dry beans)
1 10-16 ounce package frozen, chopped collar greens, spinach, kale,
or Swiss chard
1 lb (approximately) fresh collard greens, Swiss chard, kale, or spinach
Recipe continues after pictures
- If you are using 1 pound of dry beans, you need to soak them overnight and boil them for 45-60 minutes until tender, or you can use a pressure cooker without prior soaking, and they’ll be ready in about 25 minutes. Either way, they will need to be cooked in about 6 cups of water with about a teaspoon of salt. Rinse them in a colander first before soaking or adding to the pressure cooker. If you use the soaking method, I recommend changing the water they were soaking in before boiling them. Once they are cooked and tender, drain most of any excess liquid off, reserving it.
- If you’re using canned beans, open the 4 cans and drain them, reserving their liquid. Set them aside.
- If you do not have cooked rice on hand, then start cooking it immediately. Put 2 cups of rice in 4 cups of water in a covered pot and cook over medium heat for about 35 minutes until firm/tender, but not mushy. (If you have cooked rice on hand, then just before you serve the meal, microwave it on medium power in a covered dish with a tablespoon or two of added water for 1-3 minutes. The time will vary depending on the amount you are re-heating.)
- Microwave the 10-16 ounces of frozen greens in a microwavable container on low power for about 3-5 minutes to thaw it. Set it aside.
- If you are using fresh collard greens or kale, remove any thick stems by cutting them off at the end of the leaves, or by running your hand firmly down the stem to strip the leaves off. If you're using spinach or Swiss chard, there is no need for this step.
- Cut the greens first into strips and then into somewhat rectangular pieces about 2-3 inches in size. Wash them in a large bowl filled with water. Scoop them out into a colander, empty and rinse the bowl and repeat the washing. If the water still has garden residue in it after the second washing, wash it a third time. Set the greens aside in a colander.
- Peel and chop the 2-3 cloves of garlic and set it aside on a small dish or plate.
- Peel and dice the large onion and set it aside on a large plate or dish, separate from the garlic.
- Wash and dice the 3 stalks of celery and set it aside with the onions.
- Wash and dice the large green pepper and set it aside with the garlic, separate from the onions and celery.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or pot (pot is best if you’re using fresh greens) over medium heat, and add the onions and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent, and the celery is just tender, about 7-12 minutes.
- Add the diced green pepper, the chopped garlic, and the 1-2 tablespoons of hot sauce (to taste), and cook about 1 minute longer, stirring frequently.
- If you’re using fresh greens, add them at this time and try to stir them into the onion mixture. They will be very bulky, but will shrink significantly in volume as they cook. If stirring is difficult, then just cover them, and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, and then stir them into the vegetable mixture. Re-cover the pot and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes longer, until the greens are tender.
- If you’re using thawed greens, add them to the onion mixture and mix well. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add ½-1 teaspoon of salt (the amount will vary, depending on whether you're using fresh or frozen greens or canned or dry beans) and the 2 teaspoons of pepper (or to taste) to the greens. Add the reserved liquid, as needed, to keep the mixture from becoming too dry.
- Gently stir the cooked or canned black-eyed peas into the spinach mixture, blending well. Add reserved liquid as desired. Cover and allow to heat through, about 5 minutes.
- Serve the black-eyed peas over about ½-¾ cup of the rice with the tossed salad, and along with whole grain bread, if desired.