A few days ago, I ran across a Whole Foods tweet touting collards are the new kale. Intrigued, I of course clicked the link directing me to a blog post in which its author wrote “growing up in Louisiana, collards greens were standard fare”. Spending my childhood in Pennsylvania with two green-obsessed parents, collards have always been a regular part of my diet too.
Of course, rotating on the dinner table was also Lacinato, Red Russian and other leafy varietals long before the whole kale craze ever took off. And at the time, my little kid self didn’t care much for them. Apparently neither did anyone else.
Today, however, things have changed. I adore kale, and it’s become so apparently obvious, I am not alone.
What initially struck me as surprising was not that kale finally soared into stardom, but rather that collards were left behind. My parents had always grew equal amounts in the garden, and had served up equal amounts onto our plates. To me, the two went hand in hand. To an extent, they were almost interchangeable.
I find it no surprise, then, that Whole Foods thinks collard are to become the next kale. Though, I’m still amazed it took so long.
Like kale and the explosion of raw salads, I think collards will really begin to shine in their uncooked element. In the south, collards have always been common, and are traditionally known to be cooked to death with salted pork/fatback, and served as a side. Maybe this is why they didn’t take off right away. The result of that is not a pretty green sight.
Use them in their raw form as a substitute for tortillas, however, and they become one stunning way to bundle up a bunch of goodness. I did not grow up with collard wraps, but can fully say I’m excited to add more of them to my diet. Sturdy yet light, they feel like such a nourishing way to wrap up a lunch. Pack them in aluminum foil, and they also become an easy on-the-go snack.
These are stuffed with a flavorful curried tempeh, slightly sweetened with everyone’s favorite orange potatoes. I like to mash the sweet potatoes slightly into the tempeh to really blend all the flavors. Note: If whipping this up for dinner, make extra. These are great for a make-ahead lunch, served either warm or cold.
These can be eaten hot or warm. Make for dinner, pack for lunch the next day.
- -2 medium, or 1 rather large, sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
- -2 Tbsp. olive oil
- -1 large onion, diced
- -8-ounce package of tempeh, cut into cubes
- -2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- -1 scant tsp. turmeric
- -1/2 tsp. curry powder
- -1 tsp. smoked paprika
- -1 1/2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
- -2 rounded Tbsp. tomato paste
- -1/4 cup vegetable broth
- -3-4 cups spinach
- -1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- -1/3 cup cashews, chopped and toasted over dry heat
- -Cilantro, handul
- -About 8 collard leaves, dependent upon their size
- -Salt, to taste
- -Hot sauce, optional
- Steam potatoes in a steamer basket for 13-16 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until onion begins to caramelize. Add the tempeh cubes and sauté until edges are brown on each side (6-8 minutes). Stir in soy sauce, let cook for 30 seconds, and then add curry powder, turmeric, smoked paprika, mustard, tomato paste and broth. Combine thoroughly and let cook for one minute. Add spinach.
- Cook until spinach is wilted. Season with red pepper flakes, and salt, to taste. Use a spoon to lightly mash the sweet potatoes into the mix. I like to have most of the sweet potatoes mashed, with a few left chunky. While hot, spoon into collard wraps and sprinkle with toasted cashews and cilantro. Serve, adding a dash of hot sauce, if desired.