I worked in a European-style bread bakery for a spell, which meant I had access to one loaf per day of the breads that sent immigrants clambering to the bakery door. Through thick accents, they’d order their national loaves, and I understood their passion. There was a comfort in the familiar loaves, the way the bread would perch on a plate next to traditional recipes, ready for that last swipe of the plate and lingering sauces reminiscent of distant homes.
I came to rely heavily on my bread ration, too heavily- a warm, raisin-walnut roll for breakfast, a sandwich on honey-sesame for lunch, and a slice of baguette or levain on the side of dinner. I wasn’t suffering by any means, but I realized bread was taking up a lot of space in my diet and potentially limiting my intake variety. I decided to go on a bread fast.
What started as a week, turned into two months, and in that time, my diet changed tremendously. By cutting out such a staple, I had to be more creative, be more conscious and plan ahead. Eventually, I came to incorporate bread again, but by then, I had established more creative menu planning habits.
I’m not gluten intolerant, but I can sympathize with those who are. When I invited our new friends Dylan & Amber over for dinner, Amber mentioned she had a gluten-intolerance, but if it meant needing to bring her own bread or crackers, that’d be fine. My goal in any dinner party is for everyone to enjoy the meal together, so I saw her gluten intolerance as a challenge, and much like my bread fast, the challenge led to more creative menu planning, including these Collard Spring Rolls.
These healthy, colorful spring rolls come together as if rolling an entire garden row into one compact log! They also led me to discover purple sweet potatoes and the utility of a collard green.
The menu included the Collard Spring Rolls, a Carrot & Sweet Potato Pad Thai (of sorts) with Quinoa Noodles, a Beet & Sunchoke Purée with Edamame, and a Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate Dessert (more on that later).
The meal was healthy and vibrant, and it may never have come together like it did if it weren’t for a limitation.
Collard Spring Rolls with Roasted Purple Sweet Potatoes & Cashew Mustard
Adapted from Reclaiming Yesterday
About This Recipe: The main component is the roasted purple sweet potato puree. I found these at Whole Foods, but if they’re nowhere to be found, regular sweet potatoes will work too. Roasting draws a lot of flavor and sweetness, making a flavorful spread for the wraps. The best way to approach this recipe is to have a lot of vegetables, and then just ad lib while building your spring roll. Add some chopped cashews or hemp seeds if you want a little more crunch. They’re great for a packed lunch or an afternoon snack. The Cashew Honey Mustard makes a tasty dip too.
Collard Spring Rolls with Roasted Purple Sweet Potatoes
makes 6 spring rolls, or 12 halves
3-4 large, purple sweet potatoes (found mine at Whole Foods)
3-4 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
red pepper flakes (optional)
6 large, organic collard leaves
1-2 cucumbers, sliced
1-2 cups chopped fresh basil
organic pre-shredded carrots (or grated carrots)
1 organic red pepper, sliced
1-2 ripe avocados, sliced
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Lay the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray in a single layer. Drizzle the potatoes with coconut oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.
Combine roasted sweet potatoes, garlic powder and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. If the mixture is too thick/clumpy, add avocado oil or additional melted coconut oil, and blend. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Wash collard leaves under very hot water to render them more malleable. Using a small paring knife, trim the thick vein that runs down the center of the leaf to make it lay flush with the rest of the leaf (careful not to pierce the leaf) Then cut the stem where the leaf starts.
Working one wrap at a time, lay collard leaf with the inside of the leaf facing up and the stem facing towards you. Spread a base of sweet potato mash.
Follow with slices of cucumber, chopped basil, carrots, pepper slices and avocado.
Fold the right and left sides of the leaf inwards, then begin to roll your collard leaf, keeping it tight and tucking in the edges as you go. Secure with two toothpicks and slice down the center. Note: Always warn your guests when toothpicks are involved.
Repeat for the remaining wraps and serve with cashew honey mustard.
Cashew Honey Mustard
1 cup cashews (preferably soaked in water for several hours prior)
1 Tablespoon organic avocado oil
1.5 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled (or less, to taste)
water to thin
salt to taste
Add cashews, oil, mustard, honey, vinegar, and ginger to a food processor. Pulse until combined. If the mixture is too thick, add water until desired smoothness.
Salt to taste.