With warmer weather comes, often, the desire to eat lighter foods. It’s like our bodies are in tune with the seasons, which is no coincidence if you ask me, and this symmetry works out perfectly as new crops of spring and summer produce become available.
Collard greens, like other sturdy leafy greens, are a great replacement for a tortilla or other grain-based wrap – and can be used in just about any dish you’d typically use a “regular” wrap. A very quick steam adds just a touch of give and a boost of brightness (in flavor and color!) to the leaf, making it easier to work with and eat. And by throwing in an array of fresh, beautiful, crisp produce – you’re not just eating healthy, you’re eating your colors!
Eating a variety of naturally colorful foods – aka fruits and vegetables – helps ensure you’re getting the array of nutrients you need, from vitamins and minerals to antioxidants – all of the good and important stuff.
For assembling the wraps, I find that julienne or finely-slivered vegetables are best. Dicing would work too. If you want to julienne some like I did – highly recommend for carrots and cucumbers in particular – I can’t recommend highly enough purchasing a julienne peeler, like the “OXO Good Grips Julianne Peeler” (available on Zappos with free shipping and through many other retailers too). Works like a charm – so easy and quick! Also making this recipe even easier is a bamboo steamer (we have this one from Sur la Table – it’s a pretty inexpensive and worthwhile investment!).
These collard veggie wraps are good enough to become a household staple. Doctor them up as you see fit – change what you put inside, use different herbs and dipping sauces or seasonings, etc. If you want a side, some roasted sweet potatoes (cut into large chunks, toss with fresh minced garlic and a little coconut oil, and roast at 425 till browning on the outside and soft inside) are a great match. Experiment and enjoy!
Recipe: Collard Green Veggie Wraps with Garlic-Coconut Brown Rice
What You Need (serves about 4)
- 1 bunch of large collard greens
- 1-2 cups brown or wild mix rice
- 4 carrots (try the multi-color organic blend from Trader Joes – beautiful!)
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 avocados
- 1/2 head of purple cabbage
- a few pinches of fresh cilantro (can swap in a different herb instead if you prefer, like basil)
- 1 bunch of scallions
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- ground pepper & himalayan salt to taste
- dipping sauces (try some low-sodium/organic tamari, good balsamic vinegar, Organicville’s Sriracha (good mixed in with just about anything else!), Galeo’s Miso Southwest dressing, something creamy like Follow Your Heart’s vegan dressings such as ranch or blue cheese)
What You Do
- Mince or smash the garlic, and add it and the coconut oil into a pot with the rice and enough water to cook the rice in – bring to a boil and then cover and simmer until the rice is done.
- Prepare the vegetables. Thinly julienne the carrots and cucumber (here’s where that julienne peeler comes in handy!) and green pepper; slice the scallions and avocado thinly; chop the cabbage into short strips about a centemeter wide.
- Roughly chop the cilantro.
- Cut the collard leaves into large rectangularish pieces. It helps to cut lengthwise on either side of the stalk; because that’s a little tough, it won’t roll up as well as the rest of the leaf, so you can discard it. Try and slice pieces that are at least 6 inches long – makes for easier rolling – by 3 to 6 inches wide. Play around and see what size you like to work with best.
- Simmer water beneath a steamer – I use and love this bamboo steamer. Line the tray(s) of the steamer with parchment paper, and lay the leaves on it as flat as possible – it’s fine if they overlap. Steam for about 1 minute, peeking at about 30 seconds in. It’s done when the leaves look brighter in color and are a slightly softer or more flexible. Remove the steamer from the stove, and carefully lay out the collard pieces on a piece of parchment paper.
- Time for assembly! Spoon a couple of tablespoons of rice onto a collard leaf strip, an inch or two from one end, pressing down a bit. Then add in other veggies and herbs, laying them out lengthwise along the rice. Add a very tiny sprinkle of salt and some pepper, and then roll up starting from the end where the rice etc. are. If you make longer rolls, you can slice them into halves or thirds, or whatever you like.
- Serve alongside your dipping sauces, and devour!