Southern Dinner: Vegetarian Collard Greens, Vegan Creamed Corn, and Spicy Oven Fried Catfish
I am still coming down off of the high that was this dinner. It's probably safe to say that everyone loves good southern cooking, but most people wish there was a way to get that amazing southern flavor with just a few less calories. Well, I am happy to report that I have got you covered!
I really wanted to achieve a lightened up southern meal that was not only healthy, but also satisfying and true to its' traditional flavors. So, I put this menu together, invited my family over for dinner, and put the meal to the test.
Now, my mom, God bless her, is an unwavering fan of everything I do. I could have served her frozen fish sticks and she still would have raved about it to her friends. So I rounded up my other judges-
Dad: Brutally honest. Spent formative years in the Fish Fry midwest. Will only eat catfish if fried.
Sister: Outspoken. Spent 4 years in New Orleans. Will quickly tell you if your southern food is a sham.
Fiancé: Is (picky) particular in his tastes. Hails from Dallas. Introduced me to fish fries.
As you can see, the pressure was high. I held my breath as they took their first bites, but They. Loved. It.
The greens are spicy and still super flavorful, despite their lack of ham. The corn is creamy and sweet. I used coconut milk to make it vegan, but the coconut flavor is super subtle and is offset by the addition of parsley, chives, and black pepper. Don't be afraid of this one. The catfish... ohhhh the catfish. The crust is crispy, flaky, and spicy, and the fish was juicy and had absorbed all of the flavors infused in the breading. I got the recipe for the oven fried catfish from Jocelyn Delk of Grandbaby Cakes. She's got Mississippi roots and promised her oven fried version would not disappoint. I trusted her, but juuust in case, I made a batch of deep fried fish too. I lined up the two batches and didn't tell anyone that some were baked, and not a single person at dinner could tell the difference! After revealing to my dad that one of the pieces he had eaten was baked, he actually admitted that it tasted even better than the fried version. Well done, Jocelyn. Thank you.
So, that's the story behind this unbelievable dinner. If you want to learn how to make these delicious, lighter versions of southern classics then keep on reading! I promise you there is NO flavor compromise here.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
• 1 lb collard greens, chopped
• 1 small sweet onion, diced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
• 3 cups vegetable stock
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Roasted garlic powder (NOT required, but strongly recommended)
In a large pot, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Stirring occasionally, sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Add collard greens, cook down for about a minute, then add broth. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 50 minutes, or until greens are tender. Add tomato, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, and let cook for another 3-5 minutes. Serve hot!
Ingredients (serves 4):
• 2 1/2 cups frozen corn
• 15 oz coconut milk
• 2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 1-2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
• 1/5 tbsp all purpose flour (to use as a thickener, only if necessary)
• Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
• Shredded parmesan cheese (optional, will obviously no longer be vegan if added, but it truly kicks this corn up a NOTCH)
Add coconut milk, corn, and flour to a medium sized sauce pan. Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and let cook until coconut milk has reduced and thickened to desired consistency. Turn off heat, then stir in parsley and chives. Season with more cracked black pepper. Serve hot.
Grandbaby Cakes' Oven Fried Catfish
Ingredients (serves 4):
• Non-stick olive oil spray
• ⅔ cup yellow cornmeal
• ¼ cup all purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• ½ teaspoon lemon pepper
• ¼ teaspoon paprika
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons hot sauce
• 1 pound catfish fillets cut into smaller pieces
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and fit a baking rack over lined baking sheet.
• Add cornmeal, flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, and paprika to a large ziplock bag. In a large bowl, combine eggs and hot sauce. Add fish fillets to the cornmeal mixture, seal the bag, and toss to coat. Remove the fillets and add to the egg mixture, flipping to coat all sides. Add the fillets back to the cornmeal mixture, seal, and toss to coat. Be sure to coat each side thoroughly.
• Grease your baking rack with the olive oil spray and evenly space the fillets across the rack. Liberally spray the tops and sides of fillets with your olive oil spray. This will help the breading to become nice and golden brown.
• Bake until golden brown- about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of your fillets. At the very end, you can also turn on the broiler to get the edges nice and crispy. Careful not to burn.
Note: let me know if you want the deep fried recipe!!!
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Hi! I'm Shantal.