I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama where soul food reigns supreme! Collard greens, cornbread, and the like were some of my parents and grandparents favorite dishes. Every fall, when the weather starts to cool a bit I crave the comfort food that graced our table as a child and these Soul Food Bowls hit the spot every single time.
These soul food bowls have it all – perfectly cooked brown rice, Jammy Collard Greens that are just the right mix of tangy and sweet, smoky roasted sweet potatoes, and a chipotle laced cashew cream. These bowls are nothing but PURE comfort food from start to finish!
If I had to pick one element of these bowls that is my favorite it would have to be the collard greens. I am literally O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D with collards prepared this way and I can pretty much guarantee that you will be too once you try them.
First things first, I should say that these arevegetarian collard greensand that they are NOT cooked with meat. I know that meat-laced collards are pretty much the way it’s done in the south, but when your married to a vegetarian you have to get creative and think out of the box. These collards are cooked in a brine of red wine vinegar, lots of garlic, cajun spices, a bit of sugar, and butter. They’re tender, tangy, sweet, and spicy all at the same time! Plus, thanks to the Instant Pot they only take about an hour to cook as opposed to 3-4 hours on the stove top.
I like to make a batch of these collards every few weeks in the cooler months of the year not only because they’re delicious, but also because they’re pretty inexpensive and can be used in ALL sorts of ways so no one gets tired of them. We make collard green melts which are basically a collard green stuffed grilled cheese, collard hash for hearty breakfasts, and we even pile them high on tostadas. Honestly, we have found no wrong way to enjoy these collard greens so far.
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optional garnishes: pico de gallo, cilantro, thinly sliced peppers
Make the chipotle cashew cream:
Combine all of the ingredients in a high powdered blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy. The cashew cream can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Make the smoky roasted sweet potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and seasonings. Spread them into a single layer in the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tender and starting to caramelize on the edges.
To assemble the soul food bowls:
Place 1/2 cup brown rice in each of 4 bowls, divide the collard greens and sweet potatoes amongst the bowls. Top each bowl with a drizzle of cashew cream and desired garnishes. Serve immediately.
Note: Prep and cook time does not reflect the amount of time it takes to cook the collards or the brown rice.
Meg van der Kruik is the writer, mother, photographer, designer, cook and creative spirit behind This Mess is Ours. After her infant son was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, she dedicated herself to learning to make meals the whole family would love. It’s a bit of a mess – cooking for a vegetarian and three meat-eaters with a range of gluten + dairy sensitivities, but she manages to bring them together every night around their little family table.