Creamy, Spicy Collard Wraps

Most of the time, when I try to remember our honeymoon, everything’s fuzzy. I remember the guacamole Tim made the first night we arrived, after a whirlwind flight-flight-car-pickup-grocery-stop that had included my breaking down crying in the Wal-Mart parking lot. (Turns out 14 hours of travel, the day after a wedding, takes it out of a girl.) I remember the feeling of being away from it all, as if we’d left the world, gone to a secret place where only we knew each other. I remember the cheap avocados. I remember the roosters that woke us up our first day. I remember the euphoria of being alone and in love and, mostly, done with planning a wedding. But other than that, it’s all a blur.

Cream Spicy Collard Wraps

But then other days, other moments, I get quick, unexpected glimpses that put me right back in that place. Tim and I were driving down a country road Sunday, and as we rounded a bend, both sides of the scenery turned thick and green, like the tall walls of jungle we’d driven through in Kauai. “Remember that corner we’d turn, after we left Postcards for dinner?” I said to Tim.

“I loved driving that jeep,” he said to me.

Tim and Shanna and Collards
Or last week, as we were talking about the future, I looked over at Tim and saw the corners of his eyes crinkling, the way they do when he smiles. He had this look on his face just like the one in Hawaii, when we’d driven from the northern part of the island down to Poipu Beach. I have a video of that drive on my phone. We’re both in our swim clothes, with towels and scuba-diving gear in the trunk, and Tim’s talking about what a great day it is. “Great food, great trees, great weather,” he’s listing off, and you hear me laughing in the background, rows of trees passing behind him. We’d never expected to go to Hawaii; and, looking back on it now, the experience feels like a wonderful dream, the kind you want to keep going.

Making Collard Wraps

But like all celebrations and vacations and landmark moments, the honeymoon couldn’t keep going, and we eventually came back home. We returned to our everyday life, void of palm trees, rich in time. There are bills, stacks of mail, a bathroom to clean, birthdays to remember, plans to make and days where one or both of us is sick. There are days when I have to think hard to remember our honeymoon. Real life isn’t glamorous; it isn’t a luxury condo or daily walks to the sand, at least not for us, not right now, but it’s so good.

Creamy Spicy Collard Wraps

When you make big decisions–say, getting married, buying a house, choosing a job, moving away–people say momentous things like, “This is the most important day of your life!” or “Don’t forget these times!” or “Choose wisely,” and that advice isn’t all bad, just incomplete. Because if you ask me, the days are all important ones. The times are all gifts.

Folding Collard Wraps

Tim and I spent one magical week in Hawaii; we spend week after week here at home. And just like I want to remember Hawaii, I want to remember these days, too. I want to remember our second year of marriage and our little brick house and the week after week where we stuffed giant collard leaves for dinner. Nathan comes over Wednesday nights, and this is what we keep giving him. They’re fresh and crunchy, filling and flavorful, easy to adjust to your tastes.

Creamy, Spicy Collard Wraps
Makes four burrito-esque collard wraps

Last spring, Tim and I went to Florida with our friends Terry and Carrie, and the last night of our trip, we had burritos stuffed in collard leaves. It was at this little Mexican place in Sarasota with two menus, one organic and one not. Even though I’d heard of stuffing collards like wraps, I’d never tried it, and the one I had at Mi Pueblo sold me for life. When we started getting collards in our CSA last year, this is what we did with them, in all different versions, wrapped all different ways. I’ve since found the instructions at Honest Fare to be immensely helpful—the wrapping takes a little practice, but once you get it, it’s a snap.

8 collard leaves (i.e., one big bunch)
A cup cooked quinoa (we seasoned the cooking liquid with shakes of salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder)
One batch of cashew cream
One batch of bruschetta sauce
1 avocado, diced
3 carrots, shredded
A big bunch of sprouts
Salt and pepper
Red chili flakes, as desired

You’re ready to make these wraps when you’ve got your cashew cream made and your bruschetta sauce blended (see links above). After that, everything’s assembly.

Take out a 9 X 13 pan and fill it with warm water and a little bit of vinegar (I like using apple cider vinegar). Wash two collard leaves and soak them in this pan while you get your other ingredients set out. (Give them a few minutes in the water at least.)

Remove the leaves, one at a time, to a cutting board. Using a paring knife, cut the thickness of each leaf so as to make the collard leaf flat (or as close to flat as possible). See photos above. Lay the leaves facing each other, ends pointing inward and overlapping. Again, see photos above.

Stack fillings in the middle: A hunk of quinoa, some cashew cream, some bruschetta sauce, 1/4 of the avocado, 1/4 of the shredded carrots, a handful of sprouts. Salt and pepper the top. Add crushed red chili flakes, if you like a little heat. (Add lots if you like a lot of heat!)

Fold one side of the collard in; fold the other side on top of it. Then wrap up the fillings like you’re wrapping a burrito, holding the folded sides with one hand and pulling the bottom up and then the top over, rolling as you do. Hopefully the photos above explain this better. Fold in any wayward pieces, and slice the wrap in half to serve.

A few additional notes:
Collard leaves vary in size; try to match the two you use for a wrap to be about the same.

If the collard leaf has holes in it, your wrap might fall out. You can try to layer the wraps in a way that covers the hole of one leaf with the other leaf, but it takes a little craftiness.

Making the wraps takes a little practice (or at least it took me practice!), but don’t give up! It gets easier each time.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

25 thoughts on “Creamy, Spicy Collard Wraps”

    • Thanks so much — what a nice thing to say! Hope you get to try this and would love to hear what you think!

  1. It’s so easy to focus on those big moments isn’t it? The special vacations and dinners and conversations. But it’s every day life that really makes those all possible. These wraps sound like the perfect way to celebrate those moments.

  2. Beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes. Totally going to try making these. I basically have a month off work so time to experiment with recipes. 🙂

  3. This is so true Shanna! All of life’s moments are important in one way or another. It’s easy to forget though.

    Your honeymoon (and these collard wraps) sound lovely! 🙂

  4. These look good and something different! I’m after warm food at the moment – do you think it would work to bake the wraps….? P.S Thanks for my writer chats post, my family were super excited to see me and my words on your blog!

    • Oh, I’m so glad, Harriet! Thanks again for contributing your thoughts! And as far as the collard wraps, I don’t think *these* particular wraps, with this filling, would be best cooked; however, I bet there are recipes all over the Internet for cooked wraps of some kind. PS does that mean it’s cold over there now? The different seasons still amaze me!

  5. This is beautiful! I’ve been thinking about the same kinds of things recently and how we make trips so memorable and yet drag along in our daily lives. So I’m trying to do things to make my regular days memorable too, like eating on the back porch and staying outside until the sun has almost set and remembering that we have a bath tub and opening the windows to the woods outside.

  6. I’ve never tried collards – its the kind of vegetable i would pass by in a store and think, “what on earth can I eat that with?”. and I suppose, it’s also the sort that if I had no choice but to eat it, I would imagine it has to be cooked in salted water till wilted and tasty. However, your way of eating collards has made me rethink my initial impression of collards. I’m imagining eating it the way they do in Thailand, to make wraps filled with minced meat and spicy sauces, and of course, your way sounds amazing too!

  7. Beautiful. I’m quite good at longing for the past, or some sort of version of the future while at the same time missing the joy in the right now – of which there is plenty.
    I have ginormous kale leaves in the garden and think they may make a nice wrap.

    • You and me both, my friend. And ginormous kale leaves in your garden! I am loving everything about that idea.

  8. Such a beautifully written and honest post. A good reminder to cherish + find joy in the day to day. Also, I absolutely love collards used as wraps and the ingredients you used for this recipe. A fantastic summery meal that I will be making soon!

  9. I’ve always wanted to try collard wraps! These look delicious! It looks like your 2nd year of marriage is full of things to love. You two are the cutest.

  10. Such a lovely post. I agree – all the days are important; we tend to get fixated on highlights, but it’s the day in/day out that makes up most our life.

    My wedding/honeymoon is somewhat of a blur, too – but I love when some memory comes rushing back and I live it once more, just for a moment. xo


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