collard wraps

I long to be that super healthy, brown-rice eating, ancient grains making girl that always has kale in her fridge. In reality, I’m over here eating the occasional doughnut, dreaming about blueberry scones (true story) and googling onion rings. I absolutely love to eat healthy and I’m always looking for ways to combine healthy and delicious. I’m just saying that I’m not opposed to pie, but I will also eat seconds of that beet salad. I also have a strange obsession with squash and lentils, so there you have it, this recipe has a bunch of my favorite healthy things in it! Doughnuts, you shall win another day.

These collard green wraps are the perfect “cabbage roll” for the healthy world. I had just made cabbage rolls (this was a few months ago, when the weather was rainy) and I was also craving Indian food, specifically Evergreen buffet in Corvallis. So then I started thinking… what would happen if I made sort of an Indian-style cabbage roll?  They are infused with Indian spices throughout and topped with a Tikka Masala sauce. The Tikka Masala sauce has just a splash of cream, so you don’t go too overboard with the healthy-ness. 

This recipe does take a little planning ahead and “pre-cooking” but you will end up with leftover rice, lentils, squash and sauce to feed you all week (and beyond, if you freeze the leftover lentils like I do). So just keep that in mind and maybe plan ahead. Like on Monday you could cook rice and roast squash, then on Tuesday make the lentils and the sauce and then Wednesday you could assemble everything and make the rolls. Since you’ll have more then enough of everything, your Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday meals could include some of what you’re cooking ahead anyways. Make sense? Or if you like to weekend-batch cook, cook up everything in one day and store or freeze the leftover bits of components for the collard rolls to use throughout the week. This is my favorite way to cook, because weeknight meals come together so much faster and easier when I’ve already got some things pre-cooked. 

So here we go! I’ll show you how to make this in one shot, but keep in mind that you can break this into steps or just start with the pre-cooked amounts of the ingredients in the “assembly” part of the recipe. 

Make the rice and set aside. Leave the lid on the pot or the rice cooker, so that the rice doesn’t dry out as it cools. 

Roast the squash. You want pieces that will be thin enough to roll into the wrap. My preference was thin but wide, shingle shaped pieces. The squash gets cumin seeds and hot madras curry powder sprinkled on it. 

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While the squash is roasting, cook the lentils. I used sprouted green lentils and mixed in some things to flavor them while they were still warm. I learned this trick from the most amazing lentil salad recipe ever. Add a little diced red onion, some golden raisins, more spices and some red wine vinegar.

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Start the sauce and then keep it warm or on low until you are ready to serve. If you are making it ahead of time you can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge and then re-heat gently on the stove top before serving. 

Making the sauce is easy. Cook up some onions, ginger and garlic with tomato paste and add some spices and more tomatoes.

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Simmer, puree and then add in some cream. 

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Isn’t food a beautiful thing? 

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The collard leaves need to be softened. We just boil a pot of water and add them in, cook for one minute and then let cool until you can handle them.

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Okay, now it’s just an assembly line. Set a leaf on a work surface and with a short, sharp knife, cut out the thick stem on the bottom. With the bottom of the leave closest to you, add a small pile of rice (no more then 1/4 up per roll) and top that with a smaller pile of lentils (about 1/8 cup) and then a shingle of squash. 

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Start rolling. 

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And set seam side down in a square baking dish. 

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When you are ready to serve, top with warmed Tikka Masala sauce and dig in! 

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Collard Wraps with Tikka Masala Sauce

2 cups cooked Calrose rice (cooked in a rice cooker)

2 cups cooked lentils, recipe follows (sprouted green or green lentils)

2 cups roasted Indian spiced butternut squash (recipe follows)

8-10 collard green leaves

1 batch Tikka Masala Sauce (recipe follows) 

Roasted butternut squash:

Half of 1 small to medium butternut squash

Olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1-2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Take one half of the squash and use for another use. Slice the other half of the squash into 1/4 inch slices.

Oil a baking sheet (or two, if you are roasting the whole squash, but you will only need one pan of squash for this recipe) and set aside. You don’t want to oil the squash itself, the oil will seal in the moisture and the squash will be get slimy. Arrange the squash with plenty of room on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cumin seeds and the curry powder over the squash and roast for 20 minutes.



4 cups sprouted green lentils 

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Cook about 4 cups lentils according to package directions. 

Mix the onion, raisins, vinegar and spices into the lentils and set aside 2 cups for another use or freeze in portions. These lentils are excellent in a lentil salad, as is the extra squash you will probably have from this recipe.


For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

Ghee  for cooking

1 onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1” peeled fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 – 28 oz can tomatoes

6 cardamom pods crushed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (garam masala or hot madras curry)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and Pepper

Add the ghee to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautee for a 5-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cardamom and chili and cook until the tomato paste has darkened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and simmer until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Blend sauce with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

To softened the collard leaves:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove each leaf and rinse. When the water is at a rolling boil, place 5 or 6 leaves in the pot for 1 minute. Remove to a strainer and let cool, and then add the rest of the leaves. Set them aside until you are ready to fill and roll them.

To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Set an 8×8 pan aside and place the collard greens, lentils, rice and squash nearby.

Lay a leaf down on a counter or cutting board. Cut away the thick part of the stem. Take 1/4 cup rice, gently shape into a small cylinder and put on the lower third of the collard leaf. Add 1/8-1/4 cup lentils to the top of the rice. Top with a piece of squash. Roll up starting with the end that is piled high with rice, lentils and squash (see photos). Tuck in the ends so the filling doesn’t fall out. Place each collard roll in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with the next 7-9 wraps, whatever will fit snuggly in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. To serve, put 1 or 2 rolls on each plate, and spoon the sauce over the rolls.

Thanks for hanging in there! That is a long one! But I promise that if you break it up, it’s a tasty and fun recipe for meat eater and vegetarians alike, and you can freeze leftovers or eat them throughout the week. 

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