Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens
4.57 from 41 votes

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

Thank you all so much for the wonderful comments, both here and on Facebook, about my calcium post! I was really happy to hear that so many of you found it helpful, and I look forward to possibly tackling other nutrients (like iron) with a similar, food-based approach.

Since we’re focusing on calcium this week, I thought it would be an especially good time to share a calcium rich recipe. These simple stewed pinto beans and collard greens are smoky, savory, and oh-so delicious, and they also happen to deliver about 30% of your RDA of calcium in a single serving.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Collards are one of the most calcium rich leafy greens (1 cup of cooked collards provides about 270 milligrams calcium, which is 27% of the RDA of 1,000 milligrams), and pinto beans provide about 50 milligrams in a half cup. Together, these two ingredients offer bone-building calcium, along with tons of fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, and protein.

Not bad for one very simple, plant-based meal.

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

The secret of this recipe is to allow the onions to get nice and golden–almost caramelized–before adding the garlic and greens, and then to add smoked paprika (collards are often cooked with pork and bacon in traditional preparations, and the smoked paprika helps to evoke some of that flavor).

The result is a dish that’s simultaneously smoky, salty, and sweet. In spite of all of the flavor, it features a pretty short ingredient list, and it comes together quickly enough that I was recently able to whip it up for a low-stress weekend lunch. The tahini drizzle is totally optional, but it provides a touch of bright acidity from the lemon, extra garlicky flavor, and just a bit of extra bone-building power (sesame seeds are relatively high in calcium).

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

4.57 from 41 votes

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 -6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus a little extra for cooking the onions
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pound washed and dried collard greens sliced into ribbons (about 1 large bunch)
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans 2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • Dash crushed red pepper

Tahini drizzle (optional):

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small garlic clove finely minced
  • Black pepper to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet (ideally something with a lid) over medium heat. Add the onion and give it a little pinch of salt. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is soft, clear, and lightly golden. Add the garlic, paprika, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Add the collards and broth. Cover the pan and allow the collards to wilt down (you might have to do this in batches). Reduce the heat to medium low, uncover the pan, and cook the collards, stirring every so often, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the pinto beans and a dash of red pepper. Season to taste.
  • If you'd like to make the tahini drizzle, whisk together all of the ingredients while the collards cook.
  • To serve, divide the greens and beans into bowls and drizzle with the tahini (if using). You can also scoop them onto a bed of cooked whole grains (brown rice is especially nice), or toast. Enjoy!


Leftovers will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

The greens and beans can be enjoyed just as they are, or you can choose to serve them over a cooked grain. Nutty brown rice is especially nice, as would be millet, bulgur, or quinoa. If you’re having a busy day and you’d like to put together a very simple lunch, scooping the stewed greens on to some toast is absolutely delicious–especially with the tahini.

This really is one of those recipes that proves the “simple is best” maxim when it comes to cooking. It’s so easy to make, but it gives you a batch of nutrient dense ingredients that you can use in different ways as the week goes on. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and that you’ll put some of your own touches on it.

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

Have a lovely end of the week, everyone, and see you soon for weekend reading!


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4.57 from 41 votes (26 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I followed the directions exactly. I Made some crispy whole wheat garlic bread to go with it and topped with some Parmesan. My husband and I really enjoyed it and it’s a great simple weekday meal

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! This was so delicious! I halfed the recipe because I was only feeding 2 people. I used kale and beef bone broth along with cooked from dry pinto beans because that’s what I had on hand. Also didn’t have lemon so used lime juice instead. Like another comment before me, I could have eaten the whole thing myself and made myself sick! This recipe will be a regular in my house! Thank you for the quick simple but incredible recipe.

  3. 4 stars
    I was searching for ideas to make a can of lightly seasoned turnip greens more palatable and across your recipe. I added 1 can of drained & rinsed pinto beans, vegetable stock, bacon grease, salt, pepper & smoked paprika (all things I had on hand) and heated it in the microwave. It was pretty tasty! Now I’m looking forward to following the full recipe, especially since we are trying to eat more plants. Thank you so much!

  4. 5 stars
    This was so simple and delicious!!! I had some mustard greens from my local micro greens farm. I used pinto and canilini beans. Served it on mixed grains. I could have eaten the entire thing myself.made great leftovers too! Thanks!!

  5. 5 stars
    Easy and delicious. Used dried pinto beans cooked in Instapot and instead of vegetable broth used liquid from cooking beans. Chopped some leftover frisee lettuce and added just before serving. Truly delicious. May make tahini drizzle on next serving.

  6. This was perfect! The combo of collards and pinto beans was exactly what I was looking for, and the dish turned out fantastic. Even my partner, who doesn’t like things that taste too “green,” went back for second helpings. Thanks!

  7. 5 stars
    I run a CSA and we had a potluck for community members last night. I wanted them to taste collards as it is one of the least popular items we offer. I’m doing my best to get everyone onboard the collard train.

    The recipe was a hit! Thank you!

    (I added turnip greens along with the collards.)

  8. Gena,
    This recipe was so incredibly delicious. I loved the finishing touch of the Tahini drizzle. Your recipe has been added to my recipe bible.
    Thank you so much,
    Susan F.

  9. Just made this and it is delicious. I added a splash of vinegar at the end because I didn’t make the tahini drizzle. (Because I didn’t have tahini). Thank you for a great recipe!!

  10. 5 stars
    Followed the recipe exactly as written. Very very good. Am definitely going to make again.

  11. 5 stars
    this recipe sounds amazing! i have some dried pintos in my pantry that i have been itching to find another use for, and collards are in season (and on sale!) at the farmer’s market this week. I’ll take that as a sign to make this beautiful, delicious, nutrient-packed dish. cheers!

  12. 5 stars
    Great recipe — I’ve made it twice now! Also, I added a little dijon mustard and honey (it’s not completely vegan, I know) to amp up the dressing.

  13. 5 stars
    I made this for the fam tonight, Gena, and it was delish! Thank you for the recipe!

  14. This looks amazing! I am trying to pay more attention to my calcium intake since I am pregnant, and I didn’t get to mention it on your calcium page, but I am disappointed you didn’t mention anything about that on your page! I keep reading in pregnancy books that it is super important to get enough calcium while pregnant and breastfeeding since if you aren’t eating enough, your body will use your own storage (ie your bones) in order to get enough to the baby. Not all vitamins and nutritions are taken from the body, but apparently calcium will.

  15. This is the perfect use for the pinto beans currently ageing in my pantry!
    Just wondering- do you use hulled or unhulled tahini? I currently use the latter, given it’s significantly higher calcium content, but it never looks quite as pretty as the drizzle you made here!

  16. This looks delicious Gena! 🙂
    I love the nutritional info too – great work!! xoxo