If you've ever gotten a combination platter from Dukem, Tabor, or another Ethiopian restaurant in town, you've probably had ye'abesha gomen. It's a garlicky, gingery, gently spiced dish of collard greens, simmered until unbelievably tender. It might not be the first pile you scoop from with your injera, but it's a delicious way to take a break from the berbere-heavy wats.
So why would you make an Ethiopian dish for Thanksgiving? Well, in some ways, it's pretty close to many Thanksgiving standards—it's a healthy vegetable made completely unhealthy by massive amounts of butter, and it can be snarfed up with minimal chewing. But when you add garlic, ginger, and aromatic North African spices, it's elevated it to a higher plane—much more interesting than the average roasted asparagus situation. That said, it's still a mild dish and will pair fine with your turkey and mashed potatoes.
If your family is filled with haters who can't bear to try new things, note that this also freezes really well. If you have to bring home leftovers, save it for a rainy day, pick up a pack of injera from Dukem and eat it yourself. But if your dining companions are up for a new twist on their Thanksgiving vegetables, they'll love these velvety stewed greens.
Ye'abesha Gomen (Ethiopian Collard Greens)
Adapted from "Cooking with Imaye: Ethiopian Cuisine Straight from Mom's Kitchen" by Lena Deresse
2 pounds collard greens
2 small (or 1 large) yellow onions, chopped
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 serrano peppers, seeds removed and minced
2 black cardamom pods
½ teaspoon crushed fenugreek
½ teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups water
White wine vinegar, to taste
Start by prepping your collard greens—this will take forever so put on a good podcast. Wash leaves very well (they have a tendency to hold onto sand). Slice out the thick middle ribs. If the leaves are very wide, slice them in half length-wise. The narrower ones can be left as is. Then stack and cut into 1/2-inch strips across the width of the leaves. Prep the rest of your vegetables as directed (chop onions, mince garlic, ginger, and peppers) and set everything aside.
Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind using a mortar and pestle. Add the coriander and fenugreek and set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Once it’s melted and just starting to bubble, add your cardamom, coriander, and fenugreek mixture and stir to combine. Let fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the butter is very fragrant.
Stir in olive oil and then onions and raise heat to medium-high. Cook onions, stirring frequently, until starting to brown on the edges, about 10 minutes.
Add minced garlic, ginger and Serrano peppers and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 3 minutes until just starting to soften.
Add collard greens, salt, and water and once again stir to combine. Bring to a boil and stir it up again to make sure everything is nice and coated. Lower the heat to a bare flicker and cover the pot. Simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve hot with white wine vinegar to dash on top to taste. If you like a bit of heat, try a homemade pepper-infused vinegar.