Black Bean, Collard Green and Butternut Squash Stew might be disqualified from the category of “fast weeknight meal” if you were to start with all the raw, whole ingredients: certainly dried beans rather than canned, but also a whole squash, and a full head or bunch of collard greens.
Fear not, I am not suggesting you use highly processed ingredients with lots of added preservatives. Instead, buy peeled, cut-up butternut squash, which is sold in the fresh produce section, and bags of pre-washed collard (or other hearty) greens.
About those pre-washed greens: you accomplish absolutely nothing by washing them again, so throw that guilt away and use them straight out of the bag. When greens are triple washed in the packaging plant, they are done so in an environment far more hygienic than your kitchen (no matter how much you scrub). In fact, one food safety researcher I spoke to said that the minute we open the bag at home, we potentially expose the greens to more contaminants than they have known since they came in from the field.
When it comes to buying canned beans, look for low sodium or organic versions. The low sodium are not only better for your body– they don’t have the mealy texture most “regular” canned beans get, and they taste less like salt and more like the bean. Organic versions tend to be lower in sodium than regular canned beans, and also retain their texture and flavor better. (I use Goya low sodium or Health Valley organic).
Given these shortcuts, this robustly flavorful and satisfying “stew” will take only about 10 minutes of prep time, and then will simmer another 20 minutes or so– just enough time to pour yourself a glass of wine and drink a toast to your savvy, healthful and very tasty meal.