Soul Food Dinner: Blackened Catfish with Collard Greens

At the LINC Up Soul Food Café on Grand Rapids’ southeast side, traditional dishes are made with love and a desire to make them as healthy as possible for restaurant patrons.

Restaurant Manager Lewis Williams said many of the patrons who frequent the café grew up with moms and grandmothers cooking the dishes they serve, so it’s important to get the flavors right. Knowing that a healthy diet includes some “treat” meals, Williams concedes that dishes such as the chicken and waffles the café serves are available for a splurge.

“You can’t ever veer from that,” he explained.

Still, it is possible to prepare a satisfying meal that you can still feel good about eating. Williams shared the café’s recipes for blackened catfish and collard greens with us as proof.

Blackened Catfish (makes 6 servings)


  • 6 catfish filets
  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ½ cup olive oil

Heat a heavy aluminum or cast iron pan for 10 minutes. Heat the oil. Combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Coat both sides of the fish filets and place them into the pan. Cook fish until flaky on both sides. Serve immediately.

Collard Greens (makes 4-6 servings)


  • Large bunch of collard greens
  • 1/2 pound smoked turkey wings
  • 1 tbsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tbsp. hot red pepper sauce
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • ¼ cup black pepper
  • ¼ cup garlic powder

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add smoked turkey, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour. Wash collard greens thoroughly, removing the stems that run down the center. Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up and slice into half- to 1-inch thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat and add butter. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

How do you make traditional recipes healthier for your family? Share your favorite tips in the comments. 

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Photo credit: David Reber (actual recipe not pictured)

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