Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
For those of us accustomed to eating peanut butter slathered on bread with jelly, the notion of adding it to vegetables takes a little getting used to. But your first bite of these greens will make you a believer. That peanut-forward taste we know from those lunchbox sandwiches gets subsumed under the earthy collards, oniony sweetness, and the subtle kick of jalapeño and ginger to provide a savory, creamy, and slightly elusive flavor.
It might help to know that peanuts are, botanically speaking, beans. A member of the Fabaceae family, which includes all of our other favorite legumes like beans and lentils, peanuts originated in South America. Spanish colonialism brought them to the rest of the world, and in West Africa, the peanut eventually replaced its distant cousin, the Bambara groundnut, as a staple food crop.
Peanut sauce flavored with onions and garlic is eaten with both meat and vegetables in Mali, the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, and it’s the inspiration for these collard greens. Use a “natural” style peanut butter that’s just peanuts and salt for the best results. Serve as a side dish or with rice as a main course.
Creamy Collard Greens With Peanut Butter
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped*
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch collard greens
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or Maggi Liquid Seasoning)
1 cup water
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
*Remove the white membrane and seeds for less chile heat, if desired.
In a large pot with a lid, cook onion, jalapeño and ginger in the olive oil and salt over medium heat until the onion begins to brown, about 10-15 minutes.
While the onion cooks, chop the collard greens, including the stem and central rib, by rolling into a tight cylinder and slicing crosswise into ribbons about 1/2 wide. Cut through the resulting pinwheels once or twice to make the ribbons a bit shorter and easier to eat.
Add the tomato paste to the onions and cook for a few minutes, then add the collards, garlic, soy sauce and water. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes or until the collards are very tender (fish out a piece of the stem to test).
Stir in the peanut butter and vinegar and cook for another few minutes. Taste and add salt, if needed.