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Vegetarian Parmesan Broth Collard Greens

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chiffonade of collard greens on

Collard greens are as much a cornerstone of Southern cooking as biscuits and gravy. And, the use of the ingredient has evolved like the cuisine. Collard green kimchi, collard green chiffonade, wood-fired dehydrated collard greens, and collard green patra are now part of the Southern culinary lexicon alongside pot likker and sidemeat. However, in much of the country, collards are thought to be prepared one way: drowning in pork fat and cooked beyond recognition into a form of Army green pabulum. Read on to learn how to prepare an umami-packed, point friendly vegetarian collard green recipe perfect for these cold winter days.

Collard Me Crazy

I love this photo! Angie Mosier shot it and I have it labeled “Happy VA in Collard Patch” in the cloud. It’s several years old now, but it still makes me smile.

My love of collard greens is almost as well documented as my love of okra. The love is well-deserved. While I love old-school style collard greens (especially with a wedge of skillet cornbread) there are so many more ways to enjoy them. Country girl collard greens are higher in nutritional density than the supermodel of brassicas, kale! They are an essential ingredient in a winter healthy eating plan.

Collard greens are high in umami. The word umami means “yummy” or “delicious” in Japanese. It’s also known as the “Fifth Taste” and is sometimes also described as “savory” to go along with sour, salty, bitter, and sweet. When considering umami, think of the meaty, yeasty flavor of cured meats and cheeses. There’s also the richly vegetal flavor of winter greens and the natural saltiness of a tomato.  The combination of multiple ingredients that are high in umami is the key to why this dish tastes so good and is so satisfying. 


Parmigiano Reggiano

The key to this dish is the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind, also high in umami. Parmigiano Reggiano is a must-have cheese. The real deal, not pre-grated. Sure, I have that too, but true DOP Parmigiano Reggiano is otherwordly. It’s a very high flavor cheese that’s also fairly low in points!

However, it creates a rich, buttery broth that takes my beloved pot likker to a whole new place. You can buy them, but I suggest to simply buy whole pieces of cheese and save them in a container in the freezer. You’ve paid dearly for the real thing and may as well use every last bit. I use them, well like my grandmother used a ham hock, to flavor the dish.

How to Make Vegetarian Parmesan Broth Collard Greens

Here’s a quick 30 second Instagram Reel and the recipe is below!

Thanks so much for reading and watching. I hope you enjoy my latest version of this dish. I’ve dialed down the oil to let the rind provide all the fat. It’s easier and means fewer points, but it also allows for great balance with the collards and cheese. I make this recipe every other week. It’s so good!

Bon Appétit, Y’all


PS Try them with a fried egg on top for breakfast or bathed in broth and like a bowl of soup for lunch.

Vegetarian Parmesan Broth Collard Greens

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: dinner, lunch, Side Dish, vegetable
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: collard green recipe, side dish, vegetarian side dish
Servings: 4
Author: Virginia Willis


  • nonstick spray
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 piece Parmigiano Reggiano rind
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 4 cups chopped collard greens
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Mist the bottom of a pot with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, rind, stock, and collard greens. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Keeps up to 3 days in an airtight container.



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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Debbie

    Can’t wait to make this recipe. I have a rind in the fridge waiting for soup. I am curious if you make your own vegetable stock? I find store bought pretty bland. Love that field of collard greens photo!

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