January 20, 2012

Winter Colorful

So, yeah.

It's January.  2012.  Things have happened since November.  Things like finishing my first semester at SFSU, the holidays (Thanksgiving!  Christmas!  New Years!), taking advantage of a nice long break and heading back down to San Diego for 3 weeks.  It was swell.  Except that I packed warm clothes and I'm pretty sure there wasn't a day that it was below 75F.  Princess problems.

But now I'm back and the clouds have gathered and it's threatening to rain for the next 5 days and classes start on Monday and hellooooo reality.  Give me back my warm sunny beach days, please.

I had my first collard wrap at a farmers' market in San Diego a while back.  There was something about the pretty green bundle all neatly wrapped and perfectly packaged that I couldn't resist.  Inside it burst with colorful veggies and a creamy nut pate chock full of garlic and lemon.  Swoon.  It also happened to be raw and vegan.  Bonus I guess, if you're into that sort of thing.

Vegan.  Raw.  I could take it or leave it.  The flavors and textures and colors are what do it for me.  

So when my mystery box of veggies included a giant bunch of collard greens I knew precisely what I wanted to make.  It actually turned into a two night endeavor so I could experiment a bit (also, you've got to think ahead a bit as the nuts need to soak overnight to soften so you can whirl them into a creamy dreamy spread).  The first night I did the wraps with raw collard leaves, two overlapped slightly in the middle, stem sides facing opposite directions.  The next night I blanched them for 30 seconds to see if that would help with the ease of rolling.  Meh.  It didn't really, and the texture is better when they're fresh.  A crisp crunch that has structure, but - despite what you may be thinking - isn't all that tough.

Next all you've got to do is pile on the nut puree and the veggies and roll it up like a burrito.  {The explanation of the step-by-step makes it sound much more complicated than it really is.  Just bounce over here to Honest Fare and take a gander at Gabi's lovely process photos and you'll be golden.}  Don't be shy with the vegetables, mound them up.  Go for colorful, go for contrasting textures.  And if you've got any sense - add avocado.

It may not seems like particularly winter suited food, but just try and deny the welcoming and colorful burst of these collard wraps as you face months of greens and potatoes and roots.

Collard Wraps

Feel free to slice, chop and dice up whatever veggies you have on hand or are craving.  Cucumbers would be nice, and so would tomatoes in the right season.  If you've got sprouts, throw those in too!   The more colors, the more fun.   You can also use raw cashews instead of the walnuts, but I'm telling you, the nut pate is the delicious backbone of this wrap so don't leave it out or skimp on it.  And did I mention they're perfectly portable too?

4 wraps

Nut Pate:
1 cup raw walnuts
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, chopped

8 large collard greens leaves, stems removed and thick center vein shaved down
3 carrots, grated
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 avocado, mashed or cut into thick slices
8 oz baked tofu, optional

The night before, cover the nuts in water by 1 inch or so, and let sit on the counter until the next morning.  When you're ready to make the pate, drain the nuts and add to the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and process away until the mixture reaches a smooth-ish consistency, adding just a bit of water at a time to help get things going.  If not using right away, store in fridge.

Lay 2 collard leaves slightly overlapping in the center, facing opposite directions, on the counter.  Put 1/4 of the nut pate down the center, then evenly divide and pile veggies and tofu if using, on top.  Don't forget the avocado!  Bring the two end in towards the center and then roll it from the other direction, just like you would a wrap or burrito.  Eat and enjoy!