Collard Greens stuffed with cheese grits dipped in hot sauce. “Now that’s some food fusion for yo’ $#@,” as Uncle EarBob from Coldwater might say. Being a southerner myself, I’ve had my share of grits and I’ve had my share of collard greens and I’ve had my share of some hot sauce, but I AIN’T NEVAH had all three on the same plate at the same time, let along one stuffed inside the other and dipped in yet the other one.
In fact, I had never heard of such a thing until my colleague and partner-in-food-crime, Kay, told me about these rolls and then gave me the recipe. I knew immediately that I would make them. The recipe came from a special edition of The Washington Post Food Section and seemed straight forward enough. . .rinse, cut away the large stem of, and steam the collard greens; cook some grits and season them with garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese; put a blob of grits on the steamed leaf and roll like so. . .
To make them vegan, I used a vegan butter spread and almond milk for the low-fat milk in which the grits were boiled, substituted water flavored with garlic, salt and pepper for the chicken broth, and Daiya Cheddar Shreds for the cheese. Aside from these changes, I followed the recipe and found the directions for assembling them to be fairly easy to follow.
I was pleased with the results but plan to do some things differently the next time. For one, I’m going to ditch the vegan cheese and focus on seasoning the grits a little bit more, say with additional garlic and freshly ground pepper. Daiya is perhaps the best tasting one of the vegan cheese substitutes that I’ve tried, but, in terms of pure taste, I favor omitting the fake stuff and using more spices. I’d also like to season the collard greens before wrapping them around the grits. I’m thinking of a mixture of olive oil seasoned with fresh garlic, salt, and maybe even a little apple cider vinegar drizzled over a cookie sheet that I would use to lightly coat both sides of the steamed collard green leaf. These two revisions will, I’m sure, make the rolls more tasty.
In the meantime, I’ll play around with other fillings for the collard greens. Crumbled corn bread might be interesting. Corn bread-stuffed collard greens with pot liquor dipping sauce (You know, that mushy liquid that forms when Aunt Eula B. cooks the greens all day.). Or maybe a sweet potato filling of some kind dipped in a glaze dipping sauce (like one you might find on candied yams). Hoppin’ John, that southern spicy rice dish, would make yet another delicious filling and would make for a collard green roll most reminiscent of Dolmas, the Greek, stuffed grape leaves, that the Post recipe mentions. This one could be dipped in a gravy dipping sauce or peppery dipping sauce. Or how about grape leaves stuffed with cornbread dressing dipped in a cranberry chutney!!! The ideas just keep coming and coming.
What would you stuff your collard greens with? And what would you dip them in? And what makes you feel like doin’ stuff like that?
I’m looking for stuff to try, and I’ll be sure to let you know what happens.
Grits-Stuffed Collard Rolls (This recipe was taken directly from the Post; I’ve included my vegan substitutions in parentheses.)
The Washington Post, February 2, 2011
The original recipe pegged these as Southern egg rolls, but they’re really more like Southern stuffed grape leaves. Sturdy collards stand in for the traditional Greek wrappers, and garlicky cheese grits take the place of rice.
Makes 12 rolls (6 servings)
- • 6 large fresh collard green leaves, rinsed well
- • 1 cup low-fat milk (I used almond milk. Soy, rice or hemp milks can also be used.)
- • 1 cup low-sodium nonfat chicken broth (use water seasoned with a minced garlic clove, salt and pepper)
- • 1/2 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits, do not use instant
- • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded 50 percent reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, such as Cabot brand (Use Daiya Cheddar Shreds)
- • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (Use Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
- • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- • 1/4 teaspoon salt
- • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- • Hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Louisiana, for serving
Fill a large saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Set a steamer basket over the saucepan.
Cut out the center rib of each collard leaf, creating two long halves. Place them in the steamer basket; cover and cook until the greens are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; lay them on a work surface and cool them completely. Reserve the steam-basket setup; you will use it again to steam the collard rolls.
Combine the milk and broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, then gradually stir in the grits. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grits have thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter, garlic, salt and pepper until the cheese has melted. Let stand uncovered for 15 minutes, until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and is fairly firm.
Place one steamed collard leaf half on a cutting board, with the stem end nearest you. Spoon a scant 3 tablespoons of grits an inch or so above the stem end, then fold the stem end over the filling. Fold both long sides toward the center to enclose the grits, then roll tightly away from you to form a cigar-shaped bundle. Repeat with the remaining collard leaf halves and grits.
Heat the saucepan water over medium heat so the water is at a low boil. Place the bundles in the steamer basket in a single layer; cover and steam until thoroughly heated through, 5 minutes. The bundles should feel soft inside.
Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, with hot pepper sauce on the side.
80 calories, 3g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 250mg sodium, 9g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 1g sugar, 4g protein.
Adapted from “Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, 2010).
Tested by Joe Yonan for The Washington Post.
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