These greens with tomatoes, or sukuma wiki, are a healthy, inexpensive side dish made from sturdy greens stewed in spiced tomatoes and sauteed onions.
These well-seasoned greens known are similar to collards, which are popular in the American South with their fragrant potlikker, and are a reminder of the undeniably deep threads that tie together African and African American cooking. Sukuma wiki means “to stretch the week”—in other words, using these greens, which are affordable and readily available, can help stretch any meal a bit further. Greens are a staple in Kenyan cooking and in most East African cooking in general. Serve this dish with rice for a traditional, healthy, and completely vegan meal.–Hawa Hassan & Julia Turshen
Greens with Tomatoes ~ Sukuma Wiki
- 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1 large (10 oz) yellow onion finely diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 large (14 oz) tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 1 pound collards and/or kale (or any sturdy dark leafy greens, including Swiss chard) tough stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cumin, coriander, and turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, greens, a large pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoons), and water. Stir well to combine.
☞TESTER TIP: If your pot seems quite full if not overflowing, making things difficult to stir, simply cram the greens in the pot, pop the lid on, and let the greens wilt for a minute or two before attempting to stir
- Cover and simmer, until the greens are very tender and soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: If your greens are of the exceptionally sturdy sort, such as kale and collards, you may need to let them cook a little longer, say 5 to 10 minutes more than something a little more delicate like Swiss chard. Conversely, if you prefer your greens sorta chewy, reduce the cook time to 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, season the greens to taste with salt, and serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and rewarmed in a heavy pot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
So few ingredients and so little time, yet these are absolutely delicious. The question becomes why not make these?! They are beautiful and go with any meal–fancy or casual. I see these fitting right in on the Thanksgiving table, at a potluck, or the next time you have pulled pork. All of the acid from the tomatoes gets cooked out, and you’re left with sweet, stewed gems littered among the tender collards.
I used collards. I used a large Dutch oven, but couldn’t stir without everything falling out. I put the top on for 2 minutes to wilt everything and was able to stir.
After cooking for 15 minutes, I checked the greens and they were al dente. Coming from the South, they’d be considered underdone. I put the lid on for 5 more minutes and the texture was perfect.
I could see it being 4 to 6 servings because not everyone wants a huge bowl of greens (I do, but I feel like that’s not as common). I served this with coconut rice—great combo. I also think chicken tossed in curry powder would be a nice topping, too.
It called for a large pinch of salt, so I added 1/2 teaspoon and it was perfect. I didn’t add more salt at the end.
Like many home cooks, I’ve been using the last several months to go beyond my comfort zone and explore new ingredients I normally wouldn’t enjoy during normal times. For me, that ingredient is collard greens. They received a bad rap inside my home when I was growing up, though I blame that on poor cooking methods and less-than-stellar meals at Cracker Barrel. Lately, though, I’ve been exploring new ways to cook with it due to an abundance of them popping up at my local farmers market. What better way to truly experience its versatility than with this healthy, hearty, transformative recipe loaded with staples available in my pantry?
If you’ve been hesitant to eat more collards, trust me when I say that this dish will completely change your mind. Unlike the long cook time these leafy greens usually “need” to simmer, this dish went from prep to the dinner table in less than an hour. This is enough time to transform them from tough and bitter to sautéed and delicious. It also paired nicely with some citrusy acidic, the sweet tomatoes, and some earthy spiced pops from the turmeric and coriander.
While I ate more than my fair share for dinner, I can’t wait to use the rest in a stir-fry for lunch this week.
There are a few small revisions I’d like to emphasize with this recipe. Instead of coarsely chopping my greens, I julienned them into inch-wide strips for easier eating. I’d also recommend lowering the heat to low after adding the tomatoes and greens. Perhaps it was the vessel I was using to braise my greens (a heavier sauté pan), but the heat ended up caramelizing the tomato juices to the point of slightly burning my cookware. Both of these are nothing I can’t fix during my next go-around making this recipe — which, to be completely honest, will probably be in a few days when I grab a lot more collards from my market.
I used red onion instead of white because that’s all I had on hand. I also used lime juice instead of lemon because that’s what I had on hand.
These greens were very tasty and were great as a side dish. I paired them with brown rice and fish for a healthy meal.
I used 1 onion and I thought that it was going to be too much and perhaps out of proportion with the greens, as the greens shrink down so much when cooking. As it turned out, there was a lot of onion, but I enjoyed it that way, especially since the onion was sautéed with the spices and were quite flavorful.
I used 2 plum tomatoes and kale for the greens. The timing in this recipe seemed accurate. The only thing I might change would be to add a bit more lemon juice. The recipe worked out great as a side dish.
This is a quick and easy vegetable side or main dish with great flavor. I used kale and only simmered the mixture for 10 minutes as I don’t like my greens cooked to a fare-thee-well. The cumin added a nice note.
I cooked up some quinoa to go with it, and I had some wings in the fridge so made ancho- and garlic-rubbed baked wings. Just a nice solid vegetable dish that I’ll come back to.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching Hawa Hassan make this recipe during a Slow Food USA Zoom session. She took us through the recipe, step by step, while speaking about her interesting life story and her mission to recreate the recipes of East African grandmothers from the 8 countries that touch the Indian Ocean, including her homeland of Somalia, which are all available in her cookbook, In Bibi’s Kitchen.
This recipe is very easy to prepare with very simple ingredients and an almost hands-off cooking process. And yet the dish is packed with flavors. It is what I call a “multi-purpose” recipe. According to Hawa, this recipe can be used as a side or as a meal in itself. She also said she might have the Sukuma Wiki with eggs on it for breakfast. So it is a very versatile recipe!
The number of servings will depend on how you use it. As a meal, it would probably serve only two, with the addition of rice it could serve 2 to 4. As a side dish, 4 to 6 depending on portion size.
A simple, delicious, and flavorful way to make greens. I loved the smoky cumin combined with the bright acidity of the lemon and tomatoes. The recipe says that the greens will be tender after 15 minutes of cooking, which sounds accurate for Swiss chard, but a tougher green like dinosaur kale required 30 minutes of cooking time.
Yummy. Yummy. Yummy. The combination of ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric really makes these greens memorable. The acidity of the tomatoes pairs very well with the dish, and the last-minute squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds just the right depth of flavor. Healthy and easy to make. I served this dish of greens with tomatoes on the side of a pork tenderloin flavored with a touch of za’atar and a butternut squash puree.
I had Lacinato kale on hand from the CSA, so those were the greens I used. Hands-on time was minimal at about 10 minutes. That plus the cooking time of 20 minutes, this dish comes together in just about half an hour.
I am dog-earring this recipe to try with collard or mustard greens for our New Year’s Day feast! As for the recipe itself, it feeds 4 people perfectly as a side dish.
This recipe is easy to execute and provides a flavorful vehicle for any kind of green. I used green chard since there must have been a rush on kale and collards at my market and they worked beautifully.
The 5 minutes softening the onions allows the spices to bloom and ensures you get some in every bite. Chard does have a lot of water in it, so I removed my lid for the last minute or so to cook off a little of the liquid before I added the lemon juice at the end. I served it with the Baharat Roasted Chicken.
Originally published December 19, 2020