Beans, greens and cornbread meant for each other

Published 9:40 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon


Solidly rooted in the south, a favorite food combination – warm, cooked, leafy greens and beans heralds the new season ahead, accompanied by cornbread that has purpose – to not leave a single drop of savory juice behind. The flavors and textures of greens and baked cornmeal are made for each other. You’ll love these cornbread recipes – they put the “corn” back in the bread.


4 large bunches of fresh spinach

½ cup raisins

½ cup pine nuts

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 chopped, garlic cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a deep saucepan, bring ½ cup of water to a boil. Add the spinach, a handful at a time. Cook at high heat while stirring for 5 minutes or until wilted. Drain spinach. Repeat until all spinach is wilted.

In a bowl, let raisins stand in warm water for 10 minutes until plumped. Drain. In a skillet, toast the pine nuts, tossing for 5 minutes until browned. Transfer to a plate. In skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the spinach, raisins and pine nuts.  Cook at medium heat for 5 minutes until hot. Season with salt and pepper.


2 large bunches fresh red/green Swiss chard

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ cup, sliced ¼ inch strips, sun-dried tomatoes (no oil)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Trim Swiss chard. Cut leaves crosswise into ½ inch wide strips. Rinse under cold water and drain. In a heavy pot, cook while stirring for 5 minutes or until wilted. Drain. Add oil to a clean pot and cook garlic for 1 minute. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes until soft. Drain. Add sun-dried tomatoes and stir for 4 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.


4 large bunches of fresh mustard greens

2 chopped onions

6 oz. strip salt pork

Chopped green onions

Soak and rinse the greens. Remove the leaves from the stems and discard stems. In a large pot, add the salt pork and onions. Add the wet greens. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Top with chopped green onion.


3 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

1 large bunch Swiss chard

1 large bunch mustard greens

1 large bunch spinach or 10 oz. bag.

1/3 cup chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cut leaves from stems and discard stems. Tear leaves. In a large, heavy pot, melt butter. Add all torn leaf greens and stock. Cover at medium heat and cook 3 minutes while stirring until wilted. Uncover and cook another 5 minutes until juice slightly thicken. Salt and pepper.


6 chopped bacon slices

2 Tbsp. bacon drippings

2 chopped shallots

2 chopped garlic cloves

2 large bunches kale, 1-inch pieces

2 cups chicken broth

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Reserve 2 Tbsp. drippings and saute shallots and garlic for 2 minutes. Add kale and broth. Cover and cook 12 minutes or until Kale wilts and almost tender. Uncover and cook 12 additional minutes until tender. Salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bacon.


3 lbs. turnip greens

2 chopped onions

1 ¼ lb. strip salt pork

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

Tear greens into small pieces. To a pot, add cleaned greens, onions, pork salt, and pepper, and pour water over just to cover. Simmer covered for 45 minutes. Let stand. Serve with pepper vinegar.


2 large bunches of clean turnip greens

½ lb. of strip salt pork

2 Tbsp. bacon grease

Fill a large pot with water. Add the salt pork and bacon grease into the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the clean, green leaves without stems into the water making sure water covers. Cover pot and return to boil. Lower heat and cook for 2 hours or more. If extra water is needed, add boiling water. You can cook small turnips along with the greens. Cook time depends on tenderness of greens and might require more cooking.


Buy a large, store-bought bottle of red wine vinegar. Pour some out in another container to save. Then stuff 3 or 4 whole red peppers in the bottle. Let stand for a week. Infusion adds zing to greens and beans.


1 pkg. dried navy beans

1 white onion

1 bay leaf

1 1-inch piece of salt pork

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 chopped roasted red pepper

4 chopped sprigs of parsley

In a pot, add beans and cover with boiling water. Bring back to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute. Turn heat off and allow to sit for 1 hour. Drain. Then, cover the beans with fresh water. Add the onion, bay leaf, salt pork, salt and pepper to the water. Simmer uncovered for 1 ½ hours or until done. Cool. When ready to serve, toss beans with red pepper and parsley. Dress up with vinaigrette dressing.


1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. safflower oil

In a mixer, add salt, pepper, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk in oils. Serve room temperature. Refrigerate.


1 lb. dried red kidney beans

1-inch strip salt pork

2 cups chopped onion

1 ½ cup chopped celery

1 ½ cups chopped green pepper

½ cup chopped green onions

1 8oz. can tomato sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. white pepper

½ tsp. ground red pepper

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

3 dashes hot sauce

Cover beans with water 2 inches above beans and soak for 8 hours. Drain. Cover beans with water again and add ham hock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Cook uncovered on low heat an additional 45 minutes. You can add a pound of sliced, smoked sausage if you desire and cook in this last 45 minutes.   This bean dish is also good served over rice.


1 lb. dried great northern beans

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 Tbsp. salted butter

Cover beans with water and soak overnight. Drain beans. In a large stock pot, add three parts of water to one part of beans. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until tender but firm. Drain and cool. Saute pepper and zucchini in butter for 3 minutes. Mix vegetables into beans. Serve with the sauce for greens and beans.


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. orange juice

2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a skillet, saute onion in oil until soft.   In a mixer, combine olive oil, mustard, honey, orange juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour into skillet with onions and heat. Pour heated mixture over beans or greens. Blend to incorporate.


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup white onion

4 chopped garlic cloves

1 large jalapeno chili, cut in half, lengthwise

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

9 ½ cups water

1 lb. pinto beans

2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion and saute 3 minutes. Add garlic, chili (no seeds), oregano, and saute 1 minute. Add water and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Discard chili. Add sugar and salt to bean mixture. Simmer uncovered 1 more hour or until beans are tender. With a potato masher, slightly mash ½ of the beans. Season with additional salt. Refrigerate.


1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

In a processor, combine cilantro, oil, salt, pepper, and puree. Set a strainer over a bowl and strain oil, pressing down on solids. Discard solids. Drizzle beans with oil.


2 cups milk

1 cup cornmeal

1 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

½ tsp. salt

6 oz. grated, sharp cheddar cheese

2 tsp. baking powder

4 beaten egg yolks

4 beaten stiff egg whites

In a saucepan, scald milk. Reduce heat and stir cornmeal into the milk and whisk for 2 minutes. Mix in the butter, sugar, and salt. Add the grated cheese and mix thoroughly. Cool. Add baking powder to the mixture. Beat in the egg yolks. Fold in the stiff egg whites. In a greased 1 ½ quart soufflé dish, pour the mixture in, and bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes or until puffy and golden. Dish it out with a spoon.


2 beaten eggs

2/3 cup safflower oil

1 8-oz. sour cream

1 16-oz. can creamed corn

1 grated onion

1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

In a mixer, beat eggs. Mix in oil, sour cream, creamed corn, and onion. Add cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Preheat greased cast iron skillet in oven until very hot. Pour one half of the batter into the hot skillet. Cover with a ¾ cup of cheese. Pour remaining batter over the cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Very tender cornbread so allow to cool 10 minutes to set up.


¼ cup vegetable oil

1 beaten egg

2 cups self-rising flour

½ cup white cornmeal

11 oz. can undrained, mexi-corn

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

¾ cup of whole milk

Pour the oil in a greased, cast iron skillet and heat in a 425-degree oven until hot. In a mixer, beat the egg. Add flour, cornmeal, corn, cheese, and milk. The consistency of the batter should be thick and not thin. If too stiff, add a little more milk. Pour the batter in the hot skillet. Bake in the 425-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

Hints: All recipes use dried beans, but you can use canned and add ingredients.  Any leafy green can be substituted for any of the recipes. I prefer the simple flavor of seasoned greens or beans with a simple dressing or relish. While I still love southern casseroles, there’s no need to mask the fresh flavor of vegetables. You want to enhance the flavor with combinations of other fresh ingredients. In a processor, add any green stems and make delicious vegetable purees. These are excellent for making cream soups. No need to throw any of the greens away.