Robert and I were recently talking about why people think it’s so much harder to be vegan than it actually is. He made the point that people don’t always recognize that what they like most about animal-based dishes are the seasonings and sauces, not the actual flesh itself. This is an unfortunate misconception because so many seasonings and sauces can easily be enjoyed on plant-based foods and would result in a meal that is so much healthier (and much less harmful to animals and the environment). So this week I’ve been making new recipes with a specific goal in mind: to show that even the most seemingly not-vegan-friendly cuisines (i.e. BBQ) can easily be enjoyed without the use of animals and without sacrificing taste.
Since becoming vegan, we have each been exposed to so many new foods and both feel that being vegan is incredibly expansive. For me, these collard rolls are a perfect case in point. I’d heard of collard greens before as being major part of southern cuisine but the only time I’d ever seen them was in my college cafeteria (in New England) and they kind of looked like sewage. I also had very low exposure to black-eyed peas. The only time I’d ever eaten them was once a year on New Years and that was because my mother would insist we needed to have “at least one bite” or we’d be cursed with bad luck for the entire year. So, obviously collards and black-eyed peas weren’t foods for which I had a great deal of affection. Robert, on the other hand, lit up when he saw what I was cooking. “Wow! It’s so southern!” he exclaimed. And then he went on and on reminiscing about his dad’s cooking growing up. So there you go, a prime example of my experiencing something new and Robert’s rekindling the flame of the comforting flavors of his past.
These rolls were so much fun to make! They were also really, really tasty. Collard greens are pretty and delicious, and make for perfect rolling material because of their sturdiness. Collards are GREAT for heart health because of their high folate content and fiber-related nutrients. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of omega-3’s. AND, 3/4 cup of collard greens has more calcium than a glass of cow’s milk. How nice that good-for-you food and good-tasting comfort food can easily be one and the same 🙂
12 collard leaves
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
3 cups copped collards
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas, cooked (or 1 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
3 cups Dillon Panthers BBQ Sauce (click on link for recipe)
note: One bunch of collards should give you enough to prepare this recipe.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. When the water is boiling, submerge the 12 collard leaves and cover for 6 minutes. When done, use tongs to transfer them to a strainer and let cool. Handle them gently so that they don’t rip.
3. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until softened.
4. Add the chopped collards. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the moisture has cooked off.
5. Add the black-eyed peas and cook through.
6. Pour on 2 cups of the BBQ sauce and cook for about 5 minutes more. If it looks watery, turn the heat up a bit and cook a few more minutes.
7. Let cook just a bit so that you can make the rolls without burning yourself.
8. Place a collard on a flat work surface. Place about 2 tablespoons of the black-eyed peas and company in the lower third of the collard. Fold the bottom up over the mixture, then fold in the sides. Roll the collard up, gently but firmly. Continue this way with the remaining collards. Spoon extra BBQ sauce over the rolls and/or make available for dunking.
Sources: nutritional benefits of collard greens, recipe from “Veganomicon”