It’s that time again! Time for another Recipe Redux challenge recipe. And this time I get to share one of our go-to comfort food meals with you! The challenge this month was:
Packed with protein, fiber and color, plant power bowls are trendy and delicious. Show us the healthy recipe that’s in your bowl.
When I read this prompt I immediately knew what I was going to share with you! This is a family favorite that I developed as a quick and simple dish that is inspired by one of my all-time favorite Brazilian meals: feijoada.
For those of you who don’t know, feijoada is the national dish of Brazil. It is a black bean based stew that is filled with many, many different cuts of pork. It was developed by the slaves when all they had to work with was black beans and leftover pork. If you ever have a chance to have a real feijoada (and you eat meat), definitely do it! But the real deal is very labor intensive and requires a long, long time to cook. One day it occurred to me, though, that what I love about the dish more than the stew was the salty and sweet flavor explosion that is added through the use of toppings and that was something I could recreate very quickly and easily, so I did!
I wanted to have the salt and sweet tension and also the amazing Brazilian-style collard greens, so I decided that I would add roasted sweet potatoes for sweet, and both collards and a little bit of feta for salt. It was an instant family hit! Honestly, I could have this for dinner every night and so could the rest of my family. I love that this meal is easily served family style and then we each can make it our own—one kiddo basically just eats the rice and beans with a little bit of each vegetable, the other loads up on collards (these are his favorite greens), and my husband loads up on the greens and sweet potato but skips the feta and just dumps on more salt (Brazilians love their salt!).
For the beans, I use my standard bean recipe and make sure to keep them a little soupy, which is how, in my experience, Brazilians like their beans! But the real trick that took this from an ok meal to a mouthwatering Brazilian-style dish was mastering the collards. For years I struggled to get the right texture and flavor. Mine would always come out either tough and bitter or overcooked and soggy. Yuck! I finally learned the secret from my mother-in-law: it is all about how you chop them! You see, I am usually just a rip-and-tear-the-greens kind of girl, but with these collards you want to cook them very quickly so that they maintain some of their crunch for texture, and in order to do that and have them not be bitter, they need to be in long, thin strands. To do this, you wash them, cut out the stems, make a pile of 3-4 leaves and roll it really tightly (see picture). Once they are rolled, you cut it into very thin strands, about ¼-inch thick. It sounds hard, but it really isn’t and is 100% worth it! I have even started using this technique with other greens.
So next time you are thinking about doing a beans and rice bowls night, put on some fun music (preferably Bossa Nova or Samba), and try this version out for a new and fun spin. I bet you will love this super healthy dish that is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and is ready to eat in under 30 minutes!
Finally, make sure to check out the other fun and delicious plant power bowls below!
- 1 cup white or brown rice (brown rice will take a little more than 30 minutes to cook)
- 3 cups already cooked black beans or 2 cans black beans (not drained)
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small pot, start your rice cooking, according to the directions on the package.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into small, bite-sized pieces. Place them in a medium bowl and toss with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread them evenly on the baking sheet and put them in the oven (it is ok if the oven hasn’t fully preheated yet). Set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Put your beans in a pot and heat them over a medium-low heat. If you are using canned beans, add some garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste (note: go easy on the salt if you are using canned beans as they are already heavily salted).
- Wash your collard greens and then cut out the stems, leaving the leaves intact. Pile 3-4 leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly. Thinly slice the roll so that you form long ribbons, about ¼ inch thick. Repeat with other leaves. Set aside.
- Mince your garlic.
- In a large skillet or frying pan, heat your remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat until it is shimmering but not smoking. Toss in the garlic and stir for 20-30 seconds, until it is fragrant.
- Add the collards and stir well, coating them in the olive oil. Add salt to taste. Turn down to medium and stir frequently until they are bright army green, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- When the timer goes off, check your sweet potatoes. If they are soft, they are done. If not, then stir them a little and cook for another 5 minutes. Check again.
- Serve everything on the table family style so that everyone can make their bowl as they like it!