These Collard Green Rainbow Rolls are healthy, versatile, and easy to make. This particular version is vegan and gluten free, but you can wrap ’em up with whatever ingredients you like. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe HERE.
Step aside, spring rolls, with your slippery, tears-too-easily rice paper wrappers… there’s a new kind of veggie roll in town.
Collard greens might not be the first thing you think of when you think “that would make a delicious snack!” but hear me out, because I had to cut my photoshoot short with these ’cause I just couldn’t wait to eat them.
I’ve had a lot of practice, uh, failing to roll things. I’ve tried lettuce wraps, I’ve tried chard… I can manage sushi and spring rolls, but they aren’t always pretty. Collard greens, though, I can totally handle.
First of all, the leaves are massive, which means you can fill them as much or as little as you like. Anywhere from “dainty sushi” up to “ginormous burrito” goes. This is a win for me, because as you can probably tell from the varying sizes of my rolls, I have zero self restraint when it comes to filling things. Even when I aim for dainty sushi, I end up with something closer to ginormous burrito. But with collard greens, that’s okay.
Second, collards are sturdy as can be. In fact, the leaves are notorious for being tough if they aren’t cooked, which is why you only ever see them served that way. Here, they get a quick blanch in boiling water, which softens them up and makes them flexible enough to roll, tender enough to eat, but still strong enough to not tear right through. That quick dip in hot water also turns them the most epic shade of green. Like, this is the color of dragons from my childhood imagination. I will happily stand at the stove watching leaf after leaf turn from (what seems like bright green to begin with) to this even brighter, vermilion hue.
I might go so far as to say I like these even more than traditional spring rolls. I mean, if I really think about it, those rice paper wrappers have a kiiiind of weird texture. Yet another point for collards.
Collard greens 3, rice paper 0.
For these rolls, I opted to fill them with a bunch of fresh veggies, some golden turmeric rice (because YELLOW, but also because turmeric might just be the only superfood worthy of the title), and a spicy thai-inspired peanut sauce, a-la classic spring rolls.
But really… you could fill these with anything. Want it to be no-carb / grain free? Leave out the rice. Can’t have peanuts? Swap out the sauce for your favorite dressing. You can literally fill these with anything you have on hand. Any veggies, any proteins, any grains. I kept these particular ones gluten-free and vegan, but you could totally add chicken or shrimp if you wanted.
You could even take these Chili Lime Marinated Chicken Tacos and stuff ’em in some collard greens instead of taco shells. OH MAN. I am so doing that.
- 1 cup short grain brown rice
- 2½ cups water
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- ¾ tsp. fine grain sea salt
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter (look for one with no sugar added, if you can)
- ¾ cup light coconut milk
- 1½ TBSP fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
- 1 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- ⅛th tsp. garlic powder
- 1 bunch of collard leaves (about 8-10 leaves)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 english cucumber, cut into thin strips
- 2 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 or 2 avocados, cut into slices
- handful of sprouts
- ½-1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
- Optional: some fresh cilantro, or other herb you like
- Turmeric rice, and peanut sauce
- Rinse the rice, then place it in a medium saucepan along with the water, turmeric, and salt. Set over high heat, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Let cook, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. If the rice is still a little wet when it's finished cooking, remove the lid and let the water evaporate, over low heat, for a minute or two. Do not stir, or the rice will become gluey.
- Let cool slightly before filling your rolls. Rice can be made in advance. Once cooled, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or portioned into freezer bags and frozen indefinitely.
- Mix everything together in a small bowl. If the peanut butter is particularly dry or hard (as natural peanut butters can be if stored in the fridge) microwave for a few seconds to soften, or place in a small saucepan to warm.
- Get all your veggies and other ingredients (rice, sauce) ready before you begin.
- Fill a large, shallow skillet (12 or 14 inches) with water, and bring to a simmer. While the water is heating up, fill a large bowl with cool water and add a handful of ice.
- Wash the collard greens if they are dirty, then dunk one into the boiling water. I like to use the stem as a handle, and just shimmy the leaf back and forth a little to get it submerged. Let the leaf blanch for 20-30 seconds -- it will turn bright green, and soften up so it's easier to roll, and tender enough to eat. Remove from the skillet and plunge the leaf into the bowl of ice water. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
- When you're ready to roll, pull a leaf out of the bowl and blot it lightly on a clean towel. Spread the leaf onto your counter or cutting board, stem-side-up (the stem forms a large ridge down the back of the leaf). Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, fillet as much of the stem off as you can without cutting through the leaf itself. By this I mean, hold your knife perpendicular to the leaf, and gently slice away as much of the ridge of stem as you can. This will make the leaf more pleasant to eat, and much easier to roll. Slice off the entire stem at the base of the leaf, and flip the leaf over.
- Add a small amount of each ingredient in a line across the width of the roll, leaving enough room on the sides so you can fold in the sides of the leaf like a burrito. Once all my rice and veggies have been added, I like to add a spoonful of the peanut sauce, too.
- To roll, fold the bottom of the leaf up over the ingredients, then fold in the sides. Use your fingers to hold the ingredients tight, and roll away from you until the roll is almost closed. You can finish rolling as is, but I like to add a small dab more peanut sauce to the last little bit of leaf, so that it stick and holds itself shut a little better.
- Slice the roll in half, and you're done! Repeat with the remaining leaves.
- Serve with the remaining peanut sauce on the side, for dipping. I like to eat these while the rice is still slightly warm, but they also last really well in an airtight container in the fridge. I've kept them for up to a five days. If the peanut sauce becomes too thick after refrigeration, add a splash of water or coconut milk to thin it out again.
Turmeric has a (well earned) reputation for staining anything it touches yellow. Because of this, I recommend cooking the rice in a stainless steel or nonstick-coated pot on the stove, as opposed to an enamel-coated pot or a rice cooker, which may get stained. If you don't care about the color of your rice cooker insert, you can certainly try making your rice in there. For storing leftover rice, you can use plastic baggies, or glass pyrex containers, which I've found won't hold on to the color at all. In the event that a container or a wooden spoon get stained, you can fill a pot with water, add a splash of bleach, and let things soak for an hour or two before washing with warm soapy water.
Cooking the rice is the most time consuming part of making these rolls. You can start the rice cooking, set a timer, and prep your other ingredients while it cooks, or you can make the rice in advance. I like to make it in advance and portion it into little sandwich baggies in the freezer. This way I can easily take out and thaw single portions for using in rolls like these, or serving with soup or other dishes. While the color is vibrant, the turmeric is by no means overpowering, so this rice goes great with other dishes, too.
Recipe inspired by these chard rainbow rolls, from wholeheartedeats.com