Lentil Soup with Roasted Tomatoes

Lentils are a healthy staple of the vegetarian diet, and a cheap, versatile protein source for anyone—meat-free or not.  They cook up quickly and add hearty body to a simple soup. I like Umbrian lentils from Italy—they hold their shape well with cooking—but any brown lentil will do. The flavor of this soup is amped up with a pint of roasted cherry tomatoes.  You could toss most any leafy green into the pot—kale, collards, mustard greens, chard.  Substantial leaves will need a bit more simmering to soften.  Try some chopped fresh herbs for serving—especially cilantro or mint.  And a last minute drizzle of fruity olive oil.

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Saag Khumb (Indian Sautéed Greens with Mushrooms)

This dish offers the opportunity to cook up volumes of most any green you have on hand. Traditionally saag implies a mix with spinach or mustard greens, but the pile we cooked up today included arugula, kale, collards and broccoli as well as spinach (it was time to clear out the overflowing crisper drawer). You could throw in chard or even cauliflower or broccoli leaves. Serve with naan (pictured above) or other flat Indian bread. I love saag with nutty brown basmati rice, too. Continue reading

Classic Minestrone

This is nothing more comforting on a rainy, mid-February Monday than a bowl of steamy Minestrone. It’s the vegetarian’s chicken soup.

From the cook’s perspective this soup is made for a kitchen clean-out. You can vary the ingredient list depending on what you fine languishing in the crisper: kale, cabbage, chard, parsnips, turnips, celery root — you name it, practically anything will land happily in the pot.

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White Beans and Collard Greens

This recipe traces roots in many directions: the Boston-style baked beans of my youth (who knows how that got imbedded in my mid-western heritage); Southern slow-braised greens and black-eyed peas; and spicy Indian stews are among the inspirational muses. The sauce has a mildly spicy, sweet-sour tang that permeates the creamy beans. Collards are the perfect leaf for this dish since their substance loves a slow braise — they don’t go all mushy on you, but hold their character even as they become tender.

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Café Gratitude Style Summer Rolls

Collard wrapped Summer Rolls

Makes about one cup sauce; summer roll servings vary

Café Gratitude is a natural foods restaurant with locations in San Francisco and Berkeley.  A favorite dish is their collard-wrapped summer rolls.  This is my approximation.  You can improvise the fillings—mix and match as you like.  Choose raw items that offer a range of textures, with plenty of crunch.  Kids will enjoy wrapping their own green bundles.  By the way, the dipping sauce makes a great sandwich or veggie burger spread, too.


  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons white miso (from Whole Foods)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut, cashew or almond butter
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • handful fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil or arugula)
  • drizzle of honey or agave (optional)
  • collard leaves, stems cut off
  • any of the following, cut into long matchstick lengths:  apple, peach, plum, carrot, cucumber, celery, radish, jicama, pear, raw beet, raw turnip
  • ripe avocado, cubed
  • strawberry halves
  • sprouts such as sunflower, pea shoots, radish
  • herbs like basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, dill or arugula (optional)


  1. For dipping sauce, blend first 8 ingredients (up to collards) together in a food processor until very smooth.  Taste, then add the agave/honey if you like a hint of sweetness. Refrigerate.  This step can be done a day or two ahead of time.
  2. Steam collard leaves until dark green and just pliable (less than one minute).  Rinse under cool water and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Lay a leaf out on a cutting board.  Place a small amount of julienned fruits and vegetables or other ingredients on each leaf.  Roll up to create a fat cigar-like shape. Repeat with each leaf.  Serve with dipping sauce.  Best eaten shortly after assembly.