Learn how to cook collard greens without meat and add a wholesome, flavorful touch to your meals. These Meatless Collard Greens keep things light by skipping the ham hock or bacon but still pack a punch of goodness. Made with basic, fresh ingredients, these greens bring out the best in this leafy goodness.
In this guide, I'll walk you through the process of making bacon or ham hock-free collard greens – a fantastic choice for halal, vegetarians and vegans alike. I'll provide a comprehensive list of ingredients, a step-by-step cooking process, and valuable tips to make your Meatless collard greens shine.
While it takes a bit of time to simmer them to the desired amount of tenderness, the end result is worth the wait. This dish serves as a testament to the magic of simple ingredients coming together, creating a comforting and nourishing addition to your table.
To make meatless Southern-style collard greens, you will need the following ingredients.
- Collard Greens: The star of the show, collard greens are large, dark green leafy vegetables with a hearty texture. Packed with nutrients, they contribute a robust, earthy flavor to the dish.
- Yellow Onion: Adding sweetness and depth, the yellow onion is a staple aromatic in many recipes. When cooked, it melds into the collard greens, providing a savory base.
- Garlic: A flavor powerhouse, garlic introduces a pungent and aromatic element to the dish. It complements the greens with its distinct taste and enhances overall richness.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Providing a tangy kick, apple cider vinegar brightens up the collard greens, balancing the richness of the other ingredients. It contributes a touch of acidity that elevates the overall taste.
- Broth: Whether vegetable, chicken, or mushroom broth, it serves as the liquid base for simmering the collard greens. Broth enhances the dish with savory notes, ensuring the greens cook to the right amount of tenderness while absorbing flavorful depth.
- Oil: Typically, olive oil or vegetable oil is used to sauté the onions and garlic. It adds a subtle richness to the dish and helps to coat the greens, enhancing their overall mouthfeel.
- Salt, Black Pepper, and Red Chili Pepper: This combination adds a balanced and flavorful touch to collard greens. Salt enhances, black pepper adds warmth, and red chili pepper brings a subtle spice, creating a satisfying and well-rounded taste.
How to Make Collard Greens without Meat
By following these straightforward steps, you'll create a flavorful pot of Southern-style collard greens without ham hocks or bacon, showcasing the perfect balance of aromatics and slow-cooked tenderness.
Making Southern-Style Collard Greens Without Ham Hocks - Step by Step:
1. Create the Aromatic Base:
- Heat oil over medium-heat in a large Dutch oven.
- Cook the onion until softened.
- Add garlic and red chili pepper, stirring until fragrant.
2. Sauté the Collard Greens:
- Gradually add collard greens to the pot.
- Sauté them until they begin to wilt.
3. Slow Cooking the Collard Greens:
- Pour in broth and apple cider vinegar, giving it a good stir for even distribution.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.
- Allow the mixture to simmer and cook for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until the collard greens reach a tender consistency.
Here are some helpful tips for preparing delicious meatless collard greens:
1. Choose Fresh and Vibrant Greens: Opt for fresh collard greens with crisp, vibrant leaves. Look for bunches with no yellowing or wilting, as this ensures a more flavorful and tender end-result.
2. Thoroughly Wash the Greens: Collard greens can be gritty, so it's essential to wash them thoroughly. Submerge them in a basin of cold water and swish them around to remove any dirt or debris. Rinse and repeat until the water is clear.
3. Use Pre-Wash and Pre-Cut Collard Greens to Save Time: Using pre-washed and pre-cut collard greens is a time-saving strategy in the kitchen. Pre-washed greens have already undergone a thorough cleaning process, reducing the need for you to wash them extensively. Additionally, pre-cut collard greens eliminate the task of trimming and removing tough stems, saving you valuable prep time.
4. Perfecting the Aromatics: Pay attention to the sautéing process of onions, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes. This aromatic base lays the foundation for rich flavor in your collard greens.
5. Gradual Wilt for Better Texture: When sautéing the collard greens, add them gradually, allowing each batch to wilt slightly before adding more. This method ensures even cooking and a desirable texture.
6. Use High-Quality Broth: Select a high-quality vegetable or mushroom broth to infuse rich, savory flavors into your collard greens. A good broth can significantly enhance the overall taste of the dish.
7. Balancing Acidity with Apple Cider Vinegar: Adjust the amount of apple cider vinegar to your taste. This ingredient provides a tangy kick that balances the richness of the collard greens, so tailor it to your preference.
8. Low and Slow Simmering: The key to tender collard greens is a slow simmer. Keep the heat low, cover the pot, and let them cook gently for 40-45 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld, and the greens to reach the desired tenderness.
9. Seasoning with Salt and Pepper: Regularly taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper during the cooking process. This ensures that the collard greens are perfectly seasoned to your liking.
10. Experiment with Additional Flavors: Feel free to experiment with additional herbs, spices, or seasonings to customize the dish to your taste. Thyme, smoked paprika, or a splash of hot sauce can add extra depth and complexity.
It's a personal choice whether to keep or remove the stems from Collard Greens. Some prefer to keep the stems for extra crunch and texture, while others find that removing them improves the overall eating experience. Personally, I enjoy keeping the stems on for added texture, but if you prefer a softer bite, it's recommended to trim and remove the tough stems before cooking to enhance the overall tenderness and enjoyability of the collard greens.
Cooking collard greens in a slow cooker is a simple and convenient method. To do so, place all the ingredients in the slow cooker, but adjust the broth quantity to 3 cups instead of 4. This reduction in liquid helps maintain the right consistency. Set the slow cooker to the low setting and allow the collard greens to cook for 8-9 hours. This slow and gentle cooking process allows the flavors to meld, and the greens to become tender. It's an easy and hands-off approach to achieving delicious, slow-cooked collard greens.
Collard greens pair wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Traditionally, they complement Southern cuisine, such as cornbread, green beans, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, or black-eyed peas. They also make a fantastic side alongside grilled meats, roast chicken, or even a simple serving of rice. The versatile flavor of collard greens allows them to be a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of main courses, making them a versatile and welcome addition to any meal.
Consider dividing large batches into smaller portions for convenient reheating, preserving both flavor and texture. To store leftover collard greens:
- Allow the greens to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer them to an airtight container, removing as much air as possible.
- Refrigerate promptly, ensuring they are stored within two hours of cooking.
- Label the container with the date for easy tracking.
- Consume the leftovers within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
For additional food safety guidance, please visit this website.
To reheat leftover meatless collard greens:
- Stovetop Method:
- Place a saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
- Add a splash of broth or water to prevent sticking.
- Stir the collard greens occasionally as they heat through.
- Once warmed to your liking, serve and enjoy.
- Microwave Method:
- Transfer a portion of collard greens to a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover with a damp paper towel to retain moisture.
- Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until thoroughly heated.
- Be cautious not to overheat to prevent wilting.
- Oven Method:
- Preheat your oven to a low temperature, around 325°F (163°C).
- Place collard greens in an oven-safe dish, covering it with foil.
- Heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Check for desired warmth before serving.
Whichever method you choose, keep an eye on the collard greens to prevent overcooking and maintain their delicious texture.
Check Out More Southern Food Recipes
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Meatless Collard Greens
- a Large Dutch Oven (7qt and above)
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Cook the onion over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and red chili pepper, stirring until fragrant.
- Gradually add collard greens to the pot. Stir them until they begin to wilt.
- Pour in broth and apple cider vinegar. Give it a stir. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 40-45 minutes or until the collard greens reach a tender consistency. Add salt and black pepper to taste.