Stuffed Collard Greens with Rice Leeks and Olives (Vegan)
These stuffed collard greens were the perfect meal for me after the winter holidays. I ate so much meat around Christmas and New Year’s that I was craving a meatless meal. I wanted something with simple and affordable ingredients but warm and satisfying.
When I was a child, my mom was amazing at turning cheap ingredients into delicious meals. I think that I got some resourcefulness from her, because when I looked in my fridge and pantry, I didn’t have much. There was a bunch of collard greens, a cup of rice, some leeks, olives and leftover tomato sauce. In the refrigerator I always have yogurt because I make it at home. Also, I have a small garden full of fresh herbs in my backyard. So, I got to work, and I made these stuffed collard greens with rice, leeks and olives. I served them with a yogurt, garlic and dill sauce and they were so good that I had to share them with you.
Why should you make these stuffed collard greens
I don’t think that many people would prepare this recipe because it is not so easy and quick. Also, the flavors are not for everyone. Personally, I love Mediterranean meatless meals and I often crave them. I think you should make this recipe if you want to try something new and you are sick of eating the same thing over and over.
Another reason to make this dish is because it is nutritious and gut friendly.
The yogurt is a probiotic. This means that it contains beneficial gut bacteria. On the other hand, the vegetables are prebiotic. They are feeding the beneficial gut bacteria. Also, the fiber in the vegetables will keep you full for longer.
This recipe is seasonal and higher in nutrients. Collard greens and leeks are in season now. Seasonal produce is higher in vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants than the one that is not in season. The climate, soil content and sun intensity contribute to its superior nutrient composition.
Collard greens are very high in vitamins, especially vitamin K. Vitamin K promotes better calcium absorption, and it may prevent osteoporosis. All greens are also a good source of fiber.
You have to blanch the collard leaves first to make them easier to work with. Dip them in a pot with boiling water for a minute and then use tongs to transfer them into the ice cold water.
Wash the leeks very well. Sometimes there is a lot of dirt between the leaves. I peel the top leaves and rinse them under cold running water. Then I slice the leeks to rounds and I add them to a bowl of water. Toss them around in the water until the dirt falls at the bottom of the bowl. Drain the water through a colander and rinse one more time. You can pat them dry with a towel before adding them to the hot oil because they might splatter.
Cut the stem of the collard leaves. If you don’t it will remain tough and chewy even after the cooking is done.
I cook the rice only partially before stuffing the greens. The rice will cook fully once you add the dish into the oven. If you cook it fully before stuffing the leaves you will end up with overcooked rice.
Once you stuff all the greens make sure that they are covered with liquid before placing them in the oven.
Taste every step of the cooking. Adjust the seasoning to your liking. Be careful with the salt, especially if the olives you use are salty.
If you are vegan use vegan yogurt for topping or serve this dish without any topping.
Can you cook this dish on the stovetop?
Yes, you can. The stovetop method is a bit more difficult because you have to supervise the pot more. You have to keep the lid opened for that method of cooking. The liquid should simmer slowly. If it boils vigorously some of the stuffed collards may break open.
Stuffed Collard Greens with Rice Leeks and Olives
- Oven safe pot with lid duch oven
- large collard green leaves about 20
- 2 leek stalks
- 1 cup rice I used Jasmine
- 5 Tbsp cooking oil divided (2 for the stuffing, 3 for the sauce)
- ½ cup tomato sauce or 1 Tbsp of tomato purée
- ½ cup sliced olives I used a mix between Kalamata and black
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- yogurt with dill and garlic plant based yogurt for vegans
To blanch the collard greens
- Add a large pot filled with water on a burner and turn the heat on high. Bring the water to a boil.
- While the water is heating up wash and prep your ingredients. Wash and slice the leek in rounds. Wash the rice through a fine mesh strainer. Chop the olives.
- Once the water is boiling fill another bowl with cold water and add some ice to it.
- Add few of the collard leaves in the boiling water. Cook them for 30 seconds to a minute and then use tongs to transfer them to the bowl with the ice bath. Repeat the same steps with the rest of the collard leaves. Once all of the collard leaves were blanched drain the cold water and set them aside.
To prepare the stuffing
- In a deep pan add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat it up to medium high. Once the oil is hot add the sliced leeks and cook it for a minute while stirring. Then add the washed rice. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until the rice is slightly translucent. Add salt, pepper and the tomato sauce. Then add one cup of water to the pan. I added the water from the blanched collard greens to my mixture. Finally add the olives. Lower the heat and stir occasionally until all the water is absorbed by the rice. Even though the rice is still raw, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool off.
- In an oven safe pot (with a lid) add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat them up. Then add two tablespoons of flour and stir for a minute or two. Add two cups of water to that mixture (again I added the water from the blanched leaves). Stir well and add salt to taste. Set aside.
To stuff the collard leaves
- Preheat the oven to 380F.
- Place one blanched collard leaf on a flat surface. Cut off the thick stem. Place a heaping tablespoon of rice mixture at the top of the leaf and roll by tucking the ends in. Place the roll in the pot with the oil, flour and water mixture.
- Continue stuffing the leaves until you are out of rice mixture.
- Once all of your leaves are stuffed and placed in the pot. Add some extra water to cover them. You might have to add more salt too. Cover the pot with the lid an place it in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Serve the stuffed collard leaves warm. You can prepare a sauce with yogurt, dill and garlic as a topping (optional).
- Keep any leftovers in a covered pot in the fridge for 4-5 days.