Beanz ‘n’ greenz

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March 7, 2013 by productoverprocessed

When we have out-of-town visitors, it can be hard to choose the restaurant for our night on the town.  We’re indecisive enough as it is, and the added pressure of curating a friend’s single taste of Nashville can be quite daunting.  Do we seduce them with the chicken liver pate at Lockeland Table, or do we head straight for the comfort-food zone of the Family Wash?  Luckily, some of our friends are vegetarian, and for them, our choice is a no-brainer: Wild Cow.  

Wild Cow is a vegetarian restaurant right down the street from us, and they make one of our favorite meals in town, a hearty bowl of beans and greens.  The specifics look like this: garlicky kale and pinto beans heaped on top of your choice of quinoa or brown rice, with a drizzle of garlic aioli on top.  Even better is the buffalo version, which features chunks of buffalo grilled tofu and a creamy vegan ranch sauce.  Even for our non-vegetarian visitors, this is often a favorite.  My mom tried it when she visited nearly a year ago, and she still raves about it.

The problem with Wild Cow’s bowl is that it’s ten dollars.  One Alexander Hamilton for beans, some leaves, and some grains, minimally dressed (and even more if you opt for the tofu).  This was reason alone for us to have a go at making it ourselves.  



And it’s really pretty easy.  All of the ingredients are simple and distinct, so the meal is just 3 or 4 simple preparations, served together in a bowl.  And just like we imagined, it’s incredibly cheap.  We get four bowls total out of our preparation, and although I haven’t done the exact calculation, my estimate is that it costs us about $3 a bowl.  Kale isn’t too expensive, quinoa is reasonable (especially from Trader Joe’s), and dried beans are dirt cheap.  The most expensive part is the olive oil that goes into the aioli, and that’s optional.

Our recipe is below, and honestly, we think it’s better than Wild Cow’s.  Granted, we cheat by adding butter (theirs is vegan), but still!

Beanz ‘n’ greenz (makes 4 hearty servings)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed (we prefer the red kind)

1 pound kale, rinsed, dried, and chopped

2 cups canned or cooked pinto beans (we like to cook a big batch of dried beans at a time, so we have leftovers for soup, chili, etc)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tbsp neutral oil such as grapeseed, canola, etc.

2 tbsp butter

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Dressing of your choice (we prefer homemade garlic aioli, but ranch works too)

Sriracha or other hot sauce


1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Toast the quinoa in the butter for 1 minute.  Add 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil.  When water is boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Take off heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.  

2. Meanwhile, heat up oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add garlic to pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add kale and 1/2 cup of water, turn heat to high, and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Remove cover and cook until all water has evaporated.  Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Meanwhile, heat up beans in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add remaining 1 tbsp butter and salt to taste. 

4. Assemble: ladle quinoa into bowls, cover with kale, beans, and dressing.  Drizzle with sriracha or other hot sauce.  Finish with some freshly ground black pepper and enjoy!


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