I’m stuffing baby collard greens with forbidden rice and braised vegetables. Carrot chunks refuse to roll into little green packages, spilling out at every angle.
This is when I want to quit, to save the kitchen aerobics for another day. Instead I eat spoonfuls of green tea ice cream and reinsert carrot and radish triangles inside organic collard skins filled with slug-bitten holes.
This is a versatile recipe, one that’s great for emptying out the crisper drawer. If you attempt to make these stuffed collard greens with jet lag (more on that soon), I suggest stocking ice cream first.
Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
Stuffed Collard Greens
Yield 6 to 8 servings
1 large bunch collard greens (about 1 1/2 pounds, stemmed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mirin or dry white wine
4 leeks (washed and cut into rounds)
2 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger (chopped fine)
1 teaspoon honey
1 medium carrot (about 1/4 cup, diced)
2 large radishes (about 1/2 cup, diced)
1 cup cooked forbidden rice
5 umeboshi plums (chopped)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 fennel bulb (about 1/2 cup, grated)
1/2 small radicchio (about 1/2 cup, grated)
1 packed cup baby swiss chard or spinach (chopped)
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped fine)
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more to taste)
a few shakes umeboshi plum vinegar (to taste)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stem the collard greens by keeping the leaves intact. Fill a bowl with ice water; set aside. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the collard leaves in batches. Blanch two minutes and transfer to the ice water. Drain, gently squeeze out excess water and set aside.
Soak the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water to remove dirt and sediment. Heat the oil and butter over medium heat in a large lidded skillet, and add the leeks. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, honey, and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute. Add the carrots, radishes and mirin and bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the rice, umeboshi plums, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup water or enough to barely cover the rice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes without disturbing. Stir in the fennel, radicchio, swiss chard, and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Oil a wide, deep, lidded sauté pan or saucepan with olive oil. To fill the leaves, place one on your work surface, vein side up and with the stem end facing you. The leaf may have a big space in the middle where you stemmed it; if so, pull the two sides of the leaf in towards each other and overlap them slightly. Place about 1 level tablespoon of filling on the bottom center of each leaf. Fold the sides over, then roll up tightly, tucking in the sides as you go. Place seam side down in the pan, fitting the stuffed leaves in tight layers. Drizzle on the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and pour on the brown rice vinegar and soy sauce. Add a few shakes of umeboshi plum vinegar. Barely cover with water.
Cover the stuffed leaves with a round of parchment paper, and place a plate over the paper to weight them during cooking. This will keep them from opening. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour until the leaves are tender. Remove from the heat, and carefully remove the stuffed collard greens from the water with a slotted spoon or tongs. Allow to drain on a rack set over a sheet pan. Serve warm or cold.
(This recipe is inspired by Claudia Roden’s Cold Stuffed Grape Leaves found in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food).