I have a love/hate relationship with carbs. They’re so comforting, like a big hug – a hug that is expanding my waistline before my very eyes. Why does something that tastes so good have to ruin my body? It’s pretty unfair, if you ask me.
In an effort to clean up my diet, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to pump the breaks on gluten and find healthier, low-carb swaps that still allow me to eat my favorite foods. Zucchini noodles, for instance. They’re definitely not tender strands of spaghetti. But with the right sauce, like our Basic Marinara, I can make it work.
Another low-carb, healthy swap I’m exploring is using collard green leaves in place of tortillas/wraps. They’re incredibly sturdy and flexible and can hold all of your favorite burrito/sandwich fillings without breaking. Never tried collard greens? They’re relatively new to my cooking repertoire, too. After you’re done with this recipe, I challenge you to try our Black Eyed Pea Curry with Collard Greens! It’s so warm and cozy – perfect for chilly winter days.
Anyway, I’m on a collard green kick because they’re incredibly healthy. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and iron. They also provide the fourth greatest amount of antioxidants behind sweet potato greens, mustard greens and kale. Basically, collard greens are a nutritional powerhouse and are well deserving of a place on your dinner plate.
These Asian Collard Wraps with Peanut Sauce are inspired by the spring rolls I ate in Vietnam last year. They’re stuffed with all of the usual suspects – tofu, carrot, cucumber and fresh herbs – but I added thin rice noodles and shredded purple cabbage for another layer of texture and flavor. While traditional spring rolls are made with rice paper, I gave these wraps get a nutritional (and visual) upgrade with blanched collard greens. You’re going to love 'em.
Crunchy, savory and dripping in peanut-y goodness, these wraps hold up remarkably well in the fridge. Make a few and stash them away for lunches throughout the week. When shopping for your ingredients, look for a bunch of collard greens with big leaves that are free of rips and holes -- for obvious reasons.
Also, a word of warning: Take extra care when wiping your skillet between cooking the tofu and blanching the collard greens. The pan will be hot!
- 6 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 2.5 oz. thin rice noodles
- 6 large collard green leaves
- 1 medium carrot, peeled
- ½ cucumber
- ½ cup purple cabbage, shredded
- 12 basil leaves
- 12 mint leaves
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
- 1 – 2 tsp. water (to thin, as needed)
- Press tofu between a few layers of paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Cut tofu into ½-inch thick strips, about 3 – 4 inches long. Begin cooking your rice noodles according to package directions.
- Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the tofu until lightly golden, 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Check on your rice noodles and when tender, drain and set aside. Once tofu is done cooking, set on a layer of paper towels to cool.
- Wipe clean the same skillet you used to cook the tofu (careful, it’s hot!) and fill it with a few inches of salted water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. At this time, fill a separate pot or bowl with ice water and set aside.
- While you wait for your water to boil, prepare your collard greens by trimming the long stem so it’s flush with the leaf. Then, with the leaf upside down, gently shave down the thick stem that runs up the center of the leaf with a sharp paring knife. Doing so will make the leaf more flexible to fold and wrap.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully drop in the collard greens. Cook for 30 seconds, then immediately transfer them to the bowl of ice water.
- While your collard greens chill in the ice bath, prepare your veggies. For the carrot, use a vegetable peeler to create long, thin strips. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and then cut each half lengthwise into thin pieces. Trim the fleshy, seedy part of each piece to avoid a soggy wrap. Set chopped veggies aside.
- Next, prepare your sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon or two of water to thin the sauce if it’s really sticky.
- To assemble, dry each collard green leaf between two paper towels. Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface, like your cutting board, with the stem side facing up.
- Spread a spoonful of peanut sauce across the bottom center of the leaf, followed by the tofu, rice noodles, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts, mint and basil. Fold the sides of the leaf in towards the center, followed by the bottom, so your fillings are cradled.
- Finally, using your hands to keep the sides of the leaf tucked in, roll the wrap from the bottom like you’re folding a burrito. Add a dab of peanut sauce to the edge of the leaf to help the wrap stick to itself. Repeat this process with the remaining three wraps.
- With a serrated knife, carefully slice each wrap in half to serve. Or, if you’re going to travel with your wrap, leave it whole and cut it on arrival. Use any extra peanut sauce for dipping.