I love white beans with greens, so I fetched a can of cannellini beans. Next I had to choose a grain. I was not in the mood for rice, and kamut takes too long. I had about 2 cups of barley left, so I decided to make that. It takes about 50 minutes to cook (and the grain/water ratio is about 1:3). Once I had the barley simmering, I went to work cleaning the greens, which is, to me, the least fun part of cooking greens but a necessary evil. After they were rinsed, I chopped them and dropped them into boiling water to blanch them and reduce them to a reasonable volume. I gathered the rest of the ingredients and, in less than an hour, dinner was on the table.
The beauty of this dish is that you can substitute the collards for any green, the white beans for any bean, and the barley for any grain.
Of course, this is an extremely nutritious meal, absolutely packed with both kinds of fiber, protein, calcium, iron, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Omega 3's from the greens are a welcome component, and you can boost the content by sprinkling on a little flax oil or ground flax seeds just before serving.
It's also a very economical meal; barley is just pennies a serving, and the greens (which were pre-trimmed and in good shape) had no waste and were on sale for 79 cents a pound. The whole dinner (which made enough for 4 adults) cost around $5 (if you make your own veggie broth, you can do it for less than $4).
Dina's Collard Greens with Beans and Barley
- 1 big bunch collard greens, rinsed and chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tbsp crushed jarred)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4-5 cups cooked barley (start with about 1 1/2 cups dry)
Bring a few cups of water to a boil. Add the collard greens and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they're cooked down and starting to darken in color. Drain.
In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in heated olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Whisk the flour and broth and add the mixture to the pot. Bring to a boil. Add beans, salt, and pepper and simmer, stirring around for a minute.
Add the blanched greens and cooked barley. Simmer, stirring frequently, until flavors are melded and much of the liquid is absorbed.
Serve with vegan parmesan, if desired, or any seasonings you like. I spiced mine up with a bit of red pepper flakes and Fakin' Bacon bits.