The lack of enthusiasm generated from my last post on collard greens made me wonder if it is due to the true unfamiliarity that many have with these large leaves. Being the ever-persistent little bugger that I am, I decided not to throw in the towel in hopes that all will instantly see the magic in collards. I will educate you on the versatility and deliciousness that these greens have to offer. This post kicks off the first of a three part recipe series on collard greens.
I decided to start off with Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens because the focus is not necessary on the green itself. The focus is on the delicious filling and rich tomato sauce that smothers each bundle of love. As with most of my more involved recipes, each step is unbelievably simple. So although it may seem like the recipe is complicated, just take it step by step, and you will be amazed with how simple it truly is. Like stuffed grape leaves or stuffed cabbage, these are a labor of love, so take your time and enjoy the process.
Begin with the sauce. Often canned tomatoes have a very acidic “edge” to them, almost bitter really. It is quite common for a chef to add a teaspoon or two of sugar to balance that acidic bite. However, I recommend adding one whole chopped carrot to the sauce at the start. This adds a natural sweetness as well as a nutrient kick, without being detectable by taste. You can process the carrots in the food processor if you don’t want them to be seen by the naked eye. Trust me, no one will ever know. I just roughly chopped these, as I like the chunkiness. A truly delicious sauce needs the most important ingredient: TIME. So let this sauce simmer for at least an hour, and if you aren’t busy, let it go longer.
The filling is very simple. With brown rice, mushrooms, and beans, it is hearty enough to skip the meat. However, ground turkey or chicken breast and lean ground beef would do well in here. I would just recommend adding some of the tomato sauce to the filling to keep it from getting too dry.
The collards should be washed and blanched for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling water. I recommend leaving the stems on, as they become much easier to fish out.
Once they are cooled, cut the stems out and overlap the cut ends to ensure a sturdy wrap for our filling. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling and roll up like a burrito, first folding up the bottom, then folding in the two sides, and finally completing the rollup. I like to have extra leaves to allow for error. If a leaf tears as you are rolling, just insert the whole thing into another leaf. A double leaved rollup is even better!
Place each little soldier in an orderly fashion in a baking dish.
Cover with sauce, then foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
- 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
- 1 Large Carrot, Chopped or Minced
- 1- 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
- Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
- 1 Can Cannellini Beans, Drained and Rinsed
- 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
- 6 Large Button or Crimini (Baby Bella) Mushrooms, Chopped
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
- 12 Intact Collard Greens, Washed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
For the Sauce:
- Saute garlic, onion, and carrot in olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes, basil, and spices.
- Simmer for a minimum of one hour.
For the filling:
- Saute the garlic and mushrooms until tender.
- Add the rice, beans, salt and pepper, and sauté until flavors have combined and all ingredients are heated through. Set aside.
Preparing the Collards:
- Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Place the collards in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just until they are bright green and pliable.
- After removing from water, allow the leaves to cool slightly. Remove the stems from the center by carving them away with a knife.
Completing the Rollups:
- Overlap the trimmed ends of the leaf to create a smooth and sturdy wrap. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling and roll up like a burrito, first folding up the bottom, then folding in the two sides, and finally completing the rollup.
- If the leaf tears halfway through the process, simply insert it into another leaf, allowing for a double-leaved rollup.
- Align rollups side by side in a square baking sheet and cover with all of the tomato sauce. Wrap the top with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.
*If the tomato sauce is still too acidic, you may want to add 1 tablespoon if honey to round out the flavor.
**These stuffed collard greens are delicious served hot or at room temperature. Drizzle with a thin stream of extra virgin olive oil if you so desire, and enjoy!