This is a riff on an old-school cabbage roll recipe from Food Wishes. Collard greens make excellent wrappers, since they're big and sturdy and great for braising. The filling is a fragrant mix of ground lamb and toasted spiced quinoa, which drinks up the braising liquid and makes the rolls wonderfully plump. The collard greens also give some of their liquid to the pot, which combines with the tomato-accented broth to make something so good, you might just want to drink it.
These rolls are tasty the day you make them, but they're even better after a night in the fridge. And they freeze extremely well, so doubling this recipe is encouraged. —ieatthepeach
12 large rolls
large unbroken collard leaves, washed
quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
olive oil, divided
whole cumin seeds
whole fennel seeds
crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
large yellow onion, half finely diced, half sliced
large garlic cloves, minced
chopped fresh mint
chicken stock, or as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In This Recipe
Cut the thick center ribs and stems away from the collard leaves. Set the leaves aside.
In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes, or until the grains have turned golden and smell nutty. Add cumin, fennel, cinnamon, coriander, and chili flakes, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until spices have toasted and the mixture is incredibly fragrant. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil, diced onion, and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
While the quinoa mixture cooks and cools, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, then add collard leaves and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain the collard leaves and run them under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground lamb, mint, egg, and the cooked quinoa mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the mixture into 12 portions, and shape each portion into a short, squat log. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Lay a collard leaf out on a work surface, slightly overlapping the cut sides where you took out the stem. Place one portion of the filling mixture towards the end of the leaf closest to you, and fold that end over the filling. Fold in the sides and roll up the leaf over the filling, as if you were making a burrito. (Don't roll too tightly, or the rolls may swell and burst in the pot.) Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy oven-safe pot, lay about half the sliced onion on the bottom in a single layer. Place the collard rolls in the pot on top of the onions, seam side down, in an even layer. (You may have to stack some of the rolls on top of each other; if you do, lay down a few onion slices between the layers.) . Season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining sliced onion. Add tomato sauce and enough chicken stock to come most of the way up the sides of the rolls. Cover and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the rolls are fork-tender and the filling is fully cooked.
Remove the pot from the oven and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve the rolls with some of the braising liquid spooned over the top.
The collard rolls will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to 3 days. For freezer storage, lay cooked and cooled collard rolls on a foil-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, then transfer to a zip-top bag; save the braising liquid and freeze it separately. The rolls will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months; reheat them with some of the braising liquid.