13 Jun

June is National Soul food Month, celebrating the heritage and history of the foods and foodways of African Americans and peoples from the African diaspora. The culinary contributions of this group had an indelible impact on the American menu.

Folks cook and relish so many of the dishes we know as soul food throughout the year, this month focuses on the bounty of greens, cornbread, yams, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, pork, along with foods from the diaspora—jerk chicken, plantains, yassa chicken, jollof rice and more.

I’m from a family of scratch cooks and my very first food lessons were in the kitchens with my grandmothers–Dad’s

Serve Mixed greens with Ham Hock with cornbread, chopped onion, tomato or pickled okra.

mom Big Mama and Mom’s mother Gonga. So many of the favorite dishes they created were greens—cabbage, collards, kale, mustard, beet, dandelion, Swiss chard and turnip along with cornbread and pot likker. No matter which type you choose, greens belong on the menu.

Registered Dietician Michelle Stewart encourages the addition of greens to the diet. “We all need to increase the amount of fiber we eat and greens are one of my favorite options—they are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K plus many of the B-vitamins. They also contain antioxidants.

This month promises plenty of good eating along with insight from some of the key influencers on this mouthwatering topic.


  • Washed and torn collard greens.

     Choose greens with leaves that are brightly colored, not yellowing, wilting or with discolored spots.

  • Wash the leaves by swishing them vigorously in a clean bowl or sink of cold water. Take the leaves out of the water to drain, re-fill the bowl/sink with clean water and repeat until you no longer see any grit or dirt coming off. It usually takes about 3 cycles for fresh greens.
  • Remove any wilted leaves and large stems. Tear greens into pieces.
  • Pat or spin the greens dry. Store greens in refrigerator in ziptop plastic bag 2 to 3 days.

MIXED GREENS WITH HAM HOCK — This recipe for Mixed Greens with Ham Hock is a two-step method for maximum flavor. You may also use this method with other varieties of greens. 

2 quarts water

2 smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey wings

2 large garlic cloves

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

1-1/2 lb.  turnip greens, cleaned

1-1/2 lb. mustard greens, cleaned

In 4-quart Dutch oven, combine water and ham hocks. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover, simmer 1 to 2 hours, or until tender. Remove ham hocks; chill broth, until fat can be spooned off surface. Discard fat. Remove meat from ham hocks, trimming fat.

In 4-quart clean Dutch oven, cook onion in oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. In blender jar, combine 1/4 cup ham hock broth, garlic, vinegar, salt, and red pepper. Blend until garlic is minced. Add garlic broth mixture, and remaining broth to hot onions; bring to boil. Reduce heat; stir in greens and remaining ham hock meat. Return to boil; reduce heat, cover. Simmer 25 to 35 minutes or to desired doneness. Serve with chopped green onions and tomato, if desired. YIELD: 8 to 10 servings

Use frozen greens in place of fresh, if desired.

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