Falling during Black History Month, Week 20 featured recipes that have deep roots in the culinary traditions of people of color. It’s great time of year to enjoy Vegetarian Gumbo, Brown Butter Cornbread and Southern Style Collard Greens, especially since winter greens are widely available. Grab them while they’re still in season!
At Wagner Middle School, Allergic to Salad educator Leta gave a lesson focusing on both culture and science as she led her students in preparing the Brown Butter Cornbread and Southern Style Collard Greens.
“We started off talking about Black History Month! I named two black figures I looked up to, Hattie Carthan and Sojourner Truth, then asked them to name some and tell us about them (some answers were Malcolm X and Maya Angelou). We discussed photosynthesis and how it works within the plant. We learned that plants help slow climate change by taking up carbon dioxide, and we learned what exactly are the input and outputs of photosynthesis. We also talked about the benefits of local, fresh food from gardens for the environment and our health – slowing climate change, less transportation, no pesticides, better nutrients from ripe food plucked from the vine rather than plucked early.”
Brown Butter Cornbread Muffins
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 egg
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling until very little foam remains and the butter turns a golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Set aside.
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, incorporate. Add buttermilk, water and butter. Stir to combine and batter comes together.
Add batter to the muffin tins. Bake 15-20 minutes, for mini-muffins, longer for larger sized muffins or full cakes, until golden.
Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.
Malena’s students also whipped up the cornbread and greens for Week 20. “This recipe shocked. It was so surprisingly good for a bowl of greens.” Leta’s classroom also enjoyed the seasonal dish. “While the students started out not too excited about the collard greens many of them ended up loving them! The muffins cooked well and tasted delicious.”
Southern-Style Collard Greens
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 pound collard greens, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 3 cups vegetable stocks
- Hot sauce or pepper sauce, to serve (optional)
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent, about 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if you’re using them. Cook for another minute or two.
Add the collard greens, tossing to coat in the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, seasoning with salt as you go. Pour in the vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens are tender––about 45 minutes––and serve with hot sauce or pepper sauce, if desired.
P.S. If you’d like to try Collard Greens the traditional Southern way, in lieu of serving with hot sauce make pepper sauce to accompany the dish. You can find simple recipes here and here.
At Kew Forest School, Allergic to Salad educator Sydney started her lesson on Vegetarian Gumbo with a discussion of Black History Month. Both Creole and Cajun style gumbo are dishes with largely African roots (alongside French, Spanish, and Native American contributions to the ingredients and cooking techniques). Sydney shared that she “discussed Black History Month, different types of gumbo, and how we were going to make a combination of a creole and gumbo z’herbes. The students were really excited about the smoked paprika in this recipe! Most of the students were unfamiliar with okra, but ended up loving it.”
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 medium bell pepper, cored and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 cup cup okra, fresh or frozen (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ cups vegetable stock
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if desired
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring frequently, until the roux turns golden brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, have students prepare the rest of the vegetables.
Next, add in the bell pepper, celery, onion, okra (if using), and garlic, stirring frequently. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Gradually pour in the vegetable broth, whisking until smooth, then add the mushrooms, tomatoes, Cajun or Creole seasoning, thyme, cayenne (if using), bay leaf (if using), and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
Cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Taste and add more seasoning, if necessary, then serve hot over rice.
Eirann’s student at PS133K made Vegetarian Gumbo as well. “The class went smoothly, and the kids were really enthusiastic to help out. We made gumbo with okra (I was so happy to find fresh!), mushrooms, and peppers. I’m really impressed by how focused they were able to stay for the entire class and how willing they were to clean up.”
(Photo from Pudica’s Food Corner).
Thank you as always loyal readers!
Team Allergic to Salad