Kwanzaa Culinarians

Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora

Life and Collard Greens

Collard Green Leaf
Life is all about community. If you were touched by something someone said or did for you and you haven’t done it yet… stop. Stop right now and let them know.

I first met Sanura (one of the cofounders of when we were two of the few black students in our Communications Design Master’s program. And—if you know ANYTHING about Sanura—you know she’s one of the most friendly and outgoing people you’ll ever meet. My wife loves her. Everyone I know that meets her feels the same.

It’s easy to get bogged down or busy in your everyday life and neglect the friends you’ve made along the way (says the man who MISSED the deadline for this blog post).

Make friendship a priority. I think that’s a great recipe for a fulfilling life.

Thanks to Sanura for asking me to contribute to this project, as she continues to kill it with her amazing recipes. Now on to my vegan collard greens…

Vegan Collard Greens
“Say what? Did this dude just say VEGAN collard greens? I ain’t eatin’ that.”

Oh, you will. And you will LIKE IT. A’ight. Let’s do this.

What I Need, Biddy?
I’m not a super chef… so I kinda eyeball this stuff. Measurements here are not exact. TASTE. Can’t stress this enough. Season to taste.

If you don’t own one, the first thing you’ll need to get started is a BIG ASS POT.

Buy This “ISH” (Ingredients)
A MESS of collard greens (this is gonna be probably a couple of flat leaf bunches. At a farmers market, maybe about 2 lbs.)
Shallots (2 medium sized bulbs)
Apple cider vinegar (Get the good organic stuff that settles to the bottom)
Brown sugar
Black pepper (I recommend grinding your own, but if you must…a shaker will work)
Sea salt (I don’t see nuthin’ wrong with a little grind)
Smoked paprika (MANDATORY. Probably the most important ingredient.)
Chipotle powder/ground chipotle peppers (OPTIONAL. IF you like heat.)
Earth Balance OR olive oil (or both!)
Fresh cilantro OR fresh Italian parsley (get the parsley if you’re a “flavor hater”)
Note: Smoked paprika can be difficult to find, but it is ESSENTIAL to this recipe. In my experience, Whole Foods doesn’t carry it, nor does Trader Joe’s. Go to your local grocery store and look for the Spice Islands or McCormick brand.

What I Need to Do?
Okay the basics… this is for folks that don’t normally cook greens. The rest of you can tune out, I’ll let you know when to come back. SOAK the greens in water and rinse them thoroughly. Otherwise, you’ll be eating dirt. Pick up a bottle of vegetable cleaner if you’d like, but DON’T use soap. I’ve also been told you can use a little vinegar to clean.

Okay green cookers… return!

After cleaning the greens, chop them up in relatively, bite-sized pieces. I say “relatively” because greens shrink A LOT when you cook them (to about a quarter of their raw size). After chopping, set them aside.

Over medium heat, melt 2 pats of Earth Balance (or olive oil) to coat the bottom of your BIG ASS POT. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of Earth Balance and olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your BIG ASS POT). Once it’s good and hot, drop the minced shallots in.

As the shallots begin to soften and become translucent, add…
¼ tsp cumin
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tablespoons of ground sea salt (or to taste)
½ tablespoon of brown sugar (or to taste)
¼ tsp of fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

It’s about to get delicious up in here… Turn the heat up (not to the highest setting yet) and let the ingredients “sweat” a little bit. Make sure you stir all the ingredients together to incorporate them fully. Let the vinegar cook off a bit (about 2 minutes), then…
Add half a cup of water and turn heat to high
Add chopped greens, and stir, allowing them to cook down to fit in the pot as needed (they will cook down significantly)

Turn them to medium heat, cover and cook until tender, checking every 15 minutes until they are tender but not mushy (allow up to 45 minutes). Next…TASTE AGAIN. They may need a li’l sumpthin’ after all of the flavors have mixed together, so don’t be afraid to add a little salt if need be. To serve, chop fresh cilantro or parsley (your choice) to garnish.


Terry Biddle (aka T. Biddy & Biddy) comes from the mean streets of suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a designer, illustrator, writer and stand-up comic. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his lovely wife and fluffy dog. He also doesn’t normally speak in third person. To learn more, visit and Twitter @TBiddy.

About Sanura

Art Director/Senior Graphic Designer at Food Writer at

One comment on “Life and Collard Greens

  1. Pingback: Season’s Eatings | Terry Biddle dot com

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This entry was posted on December 3, 2012 by in 2012, Recipe and tagged , , , , .

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Learn more about Kwanzaa

The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits." Kwanzaa's extra "a" evolved as a result of a particular history of the Organization Us. It was clone as an expression of African values in order to inspire the creativity of our children. In the early days of Us, there were seven children who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa. Since kwanza (first) has only six letters, we added an extra "a" to make it seven, thus creating "Kwanzaa." To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

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