Mean Greens

Collard Greens

Some of my most vivid memories are of me in the kitchen — slicing, dicing and chopping in preparation for memorable meals with friends and family. The effort was often an overnight affair. I would stay up all night getting things ready, sleeping only when the meat (most notably a turkey, ham and/or roast) was in the oven. On the appointed day, guests would arrive; hungry not only for food but comraderie.

One of my best dishes is GREENS. I cook powerhouse pots of iron, minerals and vitamins in many permutations for gatherings large and small.

In Jamaica, I greened my plates with callaloo. In South Africa, it was morogo. My West African bowls were filled with bitter leaf (ndole in Cameroun; ofe onugbu in Nigeria).  In France, I made a friend at the local alimentation generale, imploring that he save “rubbish” (broccoli tops), so I could transform them into a standard side dish served at my restaurant in Montmartre. I once asked my aunt, who visited me in places far and wide, to travel with collard green seeds so I could grow my own.

A few years back, I cooked a pot of Ethiopian style collards greens for a gathering in Virginia. The closing event was a massive potluck supper where everyone was asked to prepare and share their favorite food. Even though I was accommodated in a student dormitory with extremely basic kitchen accommodations, I had access to a sink and stove, so I was good to go.

The night before the event, I borrowed a big soup pot from a local friend and went to Food Lion to buy my ingredients. Few people could understand why I was so meticulous in my selection and preparation — as in why fresh greens had to be washed repeatedly to remove grit and cooked “just so.” I washed and chopped everything and set my pot on the stove to cook.  When it was done, I let it rest until the next day, reheated it and placed it with ceremonial grandeur on the communal serving table….

Several people had never tasted greens (or my cooking) before; but those who had made a beeline for my pot. In the flash of an eye, the cauldron was empty. Everyone raved about the taste and clamored for more.

I don’t remember exactly where I got this recipe — likely a fusion of the many I have collected through the years. My preferred ingredient is collards, but any greens will do. All are equally healthy. This recipe makes a large pot that will easily serve 20+ people.

Pot of Greens

Pot of Greens


1 cup oil (olive)
6 bunches greens (chopped small)
4 medium onions (white – sliced thin)
4 medium onions (red – sliced thin)
2 medium red peppers (sliced thin & small)
8 cups water




2 tbs pepper (black)
1 cup bouillon (chicken)
1 cup sugar (natural)
1 cup vinegar (red wine)


HEAT oil in large pot
ADD greens
PUT onions & seasonings on top
COVER pot & ALLOW greens to cook down
MIX well
COOK on medium heat until greens are cooked through


1 Comment

  1. True! said,

    22 January 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Staple in my household growing up. Everybody could always use a good “Pot of Greens”.

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