“Southern Lasagna Rolls” aka Collard Greens Stuffed with Black-Eyed Peas

Sometimes, everything works out in a recipe the first time. This is one of those that was a triumph, straight from my brain. Michael highly recommends it.

I had a bunch of yogurt in the fridge, and wanted to make biscuits, but I didn’t really have anything in my repertoire that I felt actually went with them. So I started thinking. What ingredients are associated with soul food? Most strongly (and still within the vegetarian realm) are probably black-eyed peas and collard greens. Beyond that, things start getting difficult very fast, because traditionally, many vegetable recipes are flavored with pork products. So how to capture something positive about soul food, while doing something interesting and flavorful with only vegetarian ingredients?

We start with black-eyed peas as the central ingredient.

The smoked flavor and richness provided by pork products can also come from other sources. Chipotle chilies and smoked cheese are two stand-ins that work well.

Mushrooms provide some heft and texture that meat would otherwise contribute.

Greens don’t have to be cooked to oblivion – though I like them that way, I like them just tender as well. And just tender, they can be employed as wrappers.

It all comes together to make a really spectacular main dish. I think this would benefit from a sauce, though it’s certainly not necessary – but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Ingredients:

2 T. oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 c. dry black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Sauté the onion in the oil (in a pressure cooker, if you have one) until translucent, then add the garlic and sauté briefly. Add the black-eyed peas, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper (it’s not normally okay to salt beans before cooking, but it works out okay with black-eyed peas) and 5 c. of water. Bring to pressure and cook for 10 minutes, then run under cold water to bring pressure down. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook the beans until they are al dente, not until tender. Drain the beans, reserving the bean cooking liquid, and place the beans in a bowl. Allow to cool.

1 T. butter
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and chopped finely
1 large garlic clove, minced

Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet. Add the garlic and sauté briefly until fragrant but not brown. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are dramatically reduced in volume, their moisture has evaporated, and they’ve browned in places. This will take a while. When they are ready, turn them into the bowl with the black-eyed peas.

Also add to the beans:
1/3 lb. smoked natural cheese, (Grafton Smoked Cheddar or Wisconsin Applewood Smoked Gouda) shredded (No liquid smoked cheeses or processed cheese allowed here!)
1 chipotle chili in adobo, minced
2/3 c. curly parsley, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 c. bean cooking liquid

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously. While that’s happening, get ready:
2 bunches collard greens, washed, stems cut flush with the bottom of the leaf

Cook the collards in batches in the boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Remove, drain, and place on a plate.

To assemble:
Use a 9 x 13 in. glass dish. Oil it. Place a collard leaf on a plate, face up, stem end toward you. Place a large spoonful of filling on the stem end of the leaf, then roll the stem over it. Tuck the sides of the leaf in and roll the leaf all the way up. Place it in the dish. Repeat with all the remaining leaves and filling. Once all the rolls are in the dish, pour over them:

1/2 c. bean cooking liquid

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a baster to remove most of the liquid from the bottom of the dish. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.

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