My first step off the plane back into my home of Philadelphia welcomed me with a rush of balmy hot air. Hello East Coast. Hello 90-degree summer. Hello “please take me back west”.
In all reality, transitioning from a vacation is significantly easier when done in the summer. This is the time of year when I love my city the most. It’s the time of year where Philly offers free yoga classes, outdoors, every day of the week. (Sweat & smiles, all around). The time when I can ride my bike effortlessly, no jacket needed. And when beer gardens pop-up by the handful to meet my bike-induced, thirst-quenching needs. (Although, I am still waiting for that California/Portland kombucha-on-tap scene to take over Philly and fulfill those needs, too.)
As for the west coast – I feel we may meet again one day. Sunny California, you stole a piece of my heart. And did a good job streaking my hair blonde with your sunrays.
My recent travels took me through L.A., some smaller towns of Cali, all around Portland by bike, and up and down numerous, breathtaking mountains. There was lots of vegan food to be had, some of which I will be recreating (in particular, the Coconut Lentil Quesadillas from Real Food Daily!). An abundance of inspiration. Park picnics with friends. Fantastic & jolting iced coffee (Intelligentsia, for the win). Corresponding coffeeshop interactions. Adventures, surfboard crashes, and even a reality TV show recruiting.
I’ve never been so active on a vacation. Daily swim-yoga-hiking combinations unfolded, and its climbing those West Coast mountains that I’ll miss the most. I tell you, that’s where I truly feel alive.
Now that I’m back though, I want to keep that feeling of “aliveness” alive. That calls for healthy, nourishing food, and with this killer East Coast heat wave, some cool eats, too.
Shall this be the summer of collard wraps? I’ve already deemed it the summer of socca, but it can be both, right?
I love how light and refreshing collard wraps feel, while also being able to easily pack in a bunch of flavor into one portable package. It’s the kind of meal that won’t weigh you down on blazing sunny days, and also one that can generally be enjoyed hot or cold.
Keep the filling hot if you’re feeling a warm but light dinner. Or roll these up, place them in the fridge, and have a cool, ready-to-go lunch for the next day. I, of course, did both.
This meal would fit right into the forward-thinking cities of Cali (and Portland, too!). So in a sense, I’m just bringing my trip home with me. Working or not, I like to view every day of summer as vacation, and these are so easy to make, they fit well into that mindset. A one-pot meal? Packaged into fresh summer greens? With tomatoes and avocado? Ready to join me for the Cali-inspired summer of collard wraps? Yeah, me too.
But don’t worry. More socca is on its way too. And for my East Coast friends, I’m not moving just yet.
- -6-8 collards, dependent upon their size, large ends of stems trimmed away
- -3/4 cup quinoa
- -1/2 cup black (beluga) lentils
- -1/2 medium sweet white onion, chopped
- -2 tsp. sweet curry powder
- -1/2 tsp. coriander
- -3 cups of water or veg. broth
- -1 cup cooked green peas
- -Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- -Garlic salt, to season
- -1 tomato, diced
- -1 ripe avocado, diced and sprinkled with salt
- -Cilantro, optional
- In a pot, place quinoa, lentils, curry powder, coriander and a palmful of garlic salt. Add 3 cups of water/broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender, stirring halfway through.
- Stir in peas, and then remove from heat. Adjust salt, to taste.
- When ready to assemble wraps, place collard leaves on a flat surface. Place a heaping spoonful of quinoa/lentil mix in a line down the center. Scatter tomatoes and avocado on top. Add cilantro, if using, and drizzle with olive oil. Fold bottom of leaf in, then curl left side towards the right and roll. I like to wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for additional support.