Kale gets a Southern exposure

The Washington PostApril 9, 2014 

If collard greens are the new kale (a debatable assertion, as I wrote recently), then why can’t kale be the new collards? That’s what struck me when I saw a recipe for a Southern-style pairing of the trendier greens with black-eyed peas and grits.

The idea, in Robin Robertson’s new “More Quick-Fix Vegan,” makes perfect sense: Any hearty leaves can find a home in this set of flavors, which are good any time of year but especially appealing as we begin spring.

The truth is, the trio of greens, beans and grains is as natural in the kitchen as the Three Sisters (corn, squash and beans) are in the garden. And I so often have beans and grains already cooked and in my freezer or fridge that all it takes to put together a well-rounded meal is to quickly stir-fry those greens.

For Robertson’s recipe, I made the whole shebang from scratch. It seemed particularly suited to mixing and matching: As well as they work in this combination, those grits could be swapped out for barley or farro or couscous; the black-eyed peas could be replaced by limas or chickpeas or pintos; and the kale could morph into collards — or mustard greens or Swiss chard. The key is to think about just how many varieties of grains, beans and greens there are in the world, to bring them into your kitchen and to start experimenting.

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