Hold on to that summer vacation, with a tasty helping of greens. An easy recipe that can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner: A fall favorite mingles with a hint of summer that combines leafy greens with rich coconut.
On a recent trip to Zanzibar, after spending several days exploring the twisted alleys of Stonetown I escaped to the island’s eastern shore. At the Pongwe Beach Hotel I afforded myself the luxury of doing nothing more than enjoy the Indian Ocean’s beautiful turquoise waters, catch up on some reading, and eat some excellent food. Every bit of what a vacation should be. Part of breakfast every morning included mchicha (local spinach) stewed with coconut milk. Hearty and rich was the creamy coconut milk, satisfying and nutritious were the greens. Back to my regular life now, I’m still dreaming of the warm ocean breezes, but even more so of those coconut braised greens.
These greens stewed in coconut milk resemble, in many ways, the familiar collard greens dish of the south, with fatty coconut milk replacing fatty pork instead (just for once, I’ll say that despite the lack of pork I think this version is better!). I’ve been recreating this dish in my own kitchen, serving up a couple hearty spoonfuls alongside an order of eggs each morning, just like I ate on vacation. It’s certainly making my old, staid routine breakfast options of oatmeal, granola, and toast seem so lackluster, so dull (and, so brown). Plus, as Fall is being welcomed in North America and the weather suddenly providing a wispy nip in the air, let’s all hold onto our tropical vacation memories however way we can.
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- Three bunches of leafy greens- collard greens, kale, or chard will do just fine.
- 2 cups coconut milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Sautee yellow onions in olive oil on high heat until semi-soft, about three minutes. Add in leafy greens, season with a few pinches of salt, and give it a vigorous stir.
- Pour in the coconut milk, keeping heat on high. Allow the greens to cook in the bubbling milk until most of the milk is reduced, about 15 minutes. Turn heat to medium and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
- Season with plenty of ground pepper. Eat, two or three bowls.
Jessie Chien Bryson grew up spending sunny California Thanksgivings eating 20lb. free-range turkeys along with sides of Chow Mein, which is what she thinks cemented her insatiable interest of food cultures and sustainable methods as an adult. She recently spent two years in Guangzhou, China, where the locals were said to eat anything with four legs but a table and anything that flies but a plane. She's now on the other side of the world in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she keeps a diary of food, travel, and expat adventures at www.jessbopeep.com