Simple Stewed Beans and Collard Greens

Stewed Beans and Collard Greens

Beans are the backbone of comforting meals you can throw together in a flash. So, today, we’re happy to continue our month of vegetarian dinners with a simple stewed pinto bean recipe from Gena Hamshaw of The Full Helping. Here’s how to whip it up…

Stewed Beans and Collard Greens
By Gena Hamshaw of The Full Helping

This is one of those recipes that proves the “simple is best” maxim when it comes to cooking. It’s so easy to make, but it gives you a batch of nutrient dense ingredients that you can use in different ways as the week goes on. The secret of this recipe is to allow the onions to get nice and golden – almost caramelized – before adding the garlic and greens, and then to add smoked paprika (collards are often cooked with pork and bacon in traditional preparations, and the paprika helps to evoke some of that flavor). The result is a dish that’s simultaneously smoky, salty and sweet.

Recipe: Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens
Serves 4-6

You’ll need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt, plus a little extra for cooking the onions
1 cup vegetable broth
1 lb washed and dried collard greens, sliced into ribbons (about 1 large bunch)
3 cups cooked pinto beans (2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed)
Dash crushed red pepper

Tahini drizzle (optional):
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
Black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (ideally with a lid) over medium heat. Add the onion and give it a little pinch of salt. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is soft, clear and lightly golden. Add the garlic, paprika and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the collards and broth. Cover the pan and allow the collards to wilt down (you might have to do this in batches). Reduce the heat to medium low, uncover the pan and cook the collards, stirring every so often, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the pinto beans and a dash of red pepper. Season to taste.

If you’d like to make the tahini drizzle, whisk together all of the ingredients while the collards cook.

To serve, divide the greens and beans into bowls and drizzle with the tahini (if using). You can also scoop them onto a bed of cooked whole grains (brown rice is especially nice) or toast.

Stewed Beans and Collard Greens

Thank you so much, Gena!

P.S. More recipes, including easy chickpea salad and goat cheese flatbread.

(Recipe and photos by Gena Hamshaw. Thanks to Stella Blackmon for helping with this series.)

  1. MJ says...

    YUM. But also, tahini drizzle is never optional. Always imperative

  2. Yummy! This looks like what i could eat all day long.

  3. Simple and tasty, what else I could want?

  4. Susan says...

    Just made this tonight, and it was very tasty. I didn’t change a thing. I made a big pot of pintos on Sunday to go in this dish, as well as some pasta e fagioli later this week. There is nothing quite like a simple pot of beans. One can do so much with them!!

  5. Michelle O says...

    This was absolutely lovely with a few changes made for our preferences and appetites. Firstly, we used snowcap beans from Rancho Gordo. We also added two cups of broth, an extra bunch of collards, a glug of soy sauce, a can of diced tomato, liquid smoke, and 8 oz dried soy curls. Gobble gobble, yum yum. We will make this again but next time I’ll just cut to the chase and stir the tahini right into the pot. I never would have thought to add tahini to this but I’m so glad I did. It made the stew so creamy.

  6. Looks delish!

  7. bullet force says...

    Though I eat plant-forward paleo-primal these days and don’t do legumes, I’m planning on trying version of this with eggs rather than beans. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. Katherine says...

    Thank you for posting a vegan recipe!

  9. This looks so good! I’m obsessed with tahini based sauces! Adding an egg on top would be fun too.

  10. Mouse says...

    Beans and greens are my go-to meal, and endlessly adaptable. Chard and chickpeas, collards and black-eyed peas, escarole and cannellini, etc etc. Mostly with garlic, pinch of red pepper flakes, onion, sometimes smoked paprika, sometimes chopped tomatoes. Then you can:

    Throw in some pasta and or/pine nuts
    Mix with sliced sausage
    Put on top of a dressed salad so it wilts a bit
    Serve at room temp with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice as a kind of salad
    Use as a base for soup with stock and rice
    Use in a bowl with grain and other things

    The best food…..

  11. molly says...

    i applaud the recipe and the focus this month, but it would also be great to see a more diverse lineup of contributors. jerelle guy of chocolate for basil just released a cookbook, and jenne claiborne cooks vegan food and can be found via her blog, sweet potato soul.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Will check those out, thank you, Molly!

  12. Though I eat plant-forward paleo-primal these days and don’t do legumes, I’m planning on trying version of this with eggs rather than beans. Thank you for the inspiration!

  13. Kate says...

    I usually cook collard greens for at least an hour if not two but it sounds good!

  14. Tawny says...

    I’ve been near-vegan for 11 years and this enthralls me–to see vegetarian/vegan recipes on my favorite blog! Thank you!!! And this recipe is definitely going to happen in my kitchen soon!

  15. C says...

    Looks like a great recipe! I don’t usually comment but I figured I should show some support for the non-Valentine’s post. Love it! :)

  16. I love the “smash the patriarchy” subtext of this post, offering a photo of a single bowl of beans instead of something twee and pink on Valentine’s Day. :P

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha we debated doing a valentine’s day post but we are all kind of over it! :)

  17. Delicious!

  18. Cooper says...

    I can’t wait to make this! I am always looking for ways to incorporate more leafy greens and to use up that jar of tahini in my cupboard :)

  19. Leslie says...

    Trying this! We eat vegetarian on the weekdays and sometimes dapple in the omnivore land on the weekends. Thank you for sharing!
    Also, where do you get that lovely earthenware from?

  20. Denise says...

    This looks easy and perfectly comforting for a rainy day but I’m definitely adding bacon. :)

  21. Milou says...

    I love Gena! Thank you for posting this!

  22. Amanda says...

    This is going on my next grocery list! Looks awesome. Thank you!

  23. Esvee says...

    Thanks so much for a vegan recipe on CoJ! Gena Hamshaw’s recipes are some of my favorites, excited to try a new one.

  24. Jo says...

    Bravo! I love to see vegan recipes on CoJ!

    Readers less familiar with vegan cooking should know: This is a great template for beans & greens generally – you can sub with kale or chard easily, or even spinach, although you will have to adjust your greens cooking time a bit depending on the delicacy of the type of green you’re using.

    I make a very similar spinach & chickpeas dish, and kale & white beans in almost the same exact way. Before I became vegan I’d throw these on toast and top with a fried egg – now that I’m vegan I’ll do a similar tahini drizzle, or a cashew crema, or I’ll top with a squeeze of lemon juice and za’atar, dukkah, or even just some Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning. So delicious!

  25. Cara says...

    I’d love to see tips on cooking beans from scratch. I’ve tried it out a few times now, and I can’t quite get them right even with soaking and hours of cooking. Maybe the answer is just more soaking and hours of cooking? But still it would be great to get tips on how to know if they’re done or not!

    • Anne says...

      Hey Cara — I love this technique from Orangette: It’s low and slow in the oven, then I just fish out a bean and taste test to my desired firmness. Special beans like the ones from Rancho Gordo don’t hurt, either. Happy cooking!

    • Jo says...

      Make sure your dried beans are fresh! I have found that since I started buying my dried beans from my local health food store (that has lots of turnover) rather than from the regular grocery store, they cook much faster. Old dried beans that have been sitting around for years take longer to cook, are more difficult to rehydrate, and are generally more difficult to work with and prepare.

    • Court says...

      Hi Cara, I’ve found it’s all about the quality and freshness of the beans. I splurge on Rancho Gordo beans and I’ve never messed them up, and some varieties cook (without pre-soaking) in under an hour! I never soak my beans because I never plan that far in advance. Check out their site (even if you don’t buy their beans) for tips on pre-soak v. no soak, boil before simmering, etc.

    • M.K says...

      Get an instant pot!! No soaking. Beans perfectly tender (and safer to eat- research undercooked kidney beans for a scare!) and done in 40 min. Seriously. It’s amazing. I thought the instant pot was all hype until I bought one on sale around thanksgiving. It’s a game changer.

    • Hey Cara!

      When I’m craving plain beans, I give them a soak overnight and then boil them the next day (in fresh water) for 60-90 minutes, or until done (I always taste a few to be sure the consistency on all of the beans is right). At this point, I can use them right away or freeze them in one-or-two-cup-sized portions until I need them. I know that getting an Instant Pot would speed this up a lot, but I’m so used to the process that I sort of do it without thinking too much at this point!

      I also love braising beans with greens, which is kind of the same idea as this recipe, but just a soupier result (also good with toast):

      Happy cooking :)

  26. Ferrell says...

    Great to see a vegan recipe :)

  27. celeste says...

    Thank you for the vegan month; the Lenten season is made up of grilled cheese for our family otherwise. Not a fan of this but I’ll check out others!

  28. naseem says...

    Yay! Thanks for a vegan recipe, cup of jo team! Can’t wait to try it.

  29. Rae says...

    Smoked paprika is magic! It adds such depth of flavor to meat-free dishes and has become my secret ingredient. Shhhh. Now you all know : )

    • M.K says...

      Yes!! Try Bourbon smoked paprika… it’s the only one we use now.

    • Gloria says...

      Liquid smoke works very well in this type of recipe. You can usually find it in the steak sauce section of any supermarket. Our store also sells frozen kale and black eyed peas if you need to put something together in a hurry.

    • Lizzie says...

      Another special secret ingredient : smoked salt! Such a wonderful way to deepen flavor. It’s like bacon but much kinder to animals. It’s also quite easy to use- just sprinkle it like any salt. I also use it like a billion for quick flavoring by dissolving in water.

      Thank you Cup of Jo for lovely vegetarian month!

  30. Allison says...

    Not only is this recipe vegetarian, it’s vegan! Thank you so much for featuring a vegan recipe <3 I can't wait to try it, it looks warming and glorious for this cold weather in the PNW.

  31. Sarah says...

    This looks like a tasty, nutritious, and CHEAP meal! Yay!

  32. Clare says...

    Yummy! I love beans.