Crossover meals follow the intersection of late summer and early fall. We’re using up the last of our summer crops – zucchini and summer squash among others – while welcoming sturdy autumn vegetables, currently an abundance of greens. Our CSA has an explosion of chard and kale and collards so I’ve been working on creative ways to use them. Of course, there’s our popular crustless greens pie, which is quickly becoming a weekly event, though the ingredients can be cooked up and frozen for later.
Here large flat collard leaves are used as wrappers for a delicious filling of nutty freekah (toasted green wheat – ha, not a crazy joke), pan-roasted onions and summer squash, capers and raisins. Cooked freekah is nutty in flavor and slightly crunchy, so it was a good counterpoint to the squash and seasonings and the deep green of the collards. Cracked freekah is cooked much like white rice: bring to a boil two units of water to one of grains, add the grains, stir, turn the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 20 minutes. You can make the freekah while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
I discovered that it’s best to leave the collard leaves whole while blanching them in the first step and cut out the toughest part of the stem later. You cut away less of the leaf in this method and there’s less chance of the filling’s leaking out during cooking. Braised in a little liquid in the oven, these are delicious on their own, or as a side dish with roast chicken. I liked the combination of onions, raisins and capers. Another time, I might omit the capers and incorporate curry powder mixed with the onion and squash.
Collard Green Rolls with Freekah and Summer Squash
6 medium leaves collard greens
A big pot of salted water
½ c cracked freekah
1 c salted water
1 small onion, diced
1 yellow summer squash, trimmed and diced
2 tbsp raisins, plumped in very hot water for 10 minutes
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
A drop or two of red hot sauce (e.g., Tabasco, Sriracha)
Salt and pepper
Prepare the collard greens. Trim the long stems of the collards to the edge of the leaves (they can be set aside for another use). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and plunge 2 leaves at a time into the water, submerging them. Cook about 2-3 minutes (depending on the age of the leaves – mine were just harvested and somewhat young so they cooked in about 2 minutes. Remove them to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Lay them flat on towels to cool and dry. Carefully cut the stiffest portion of the stem away from the leaves at the base.
Meanwhile, cook the freekah. Rinse the grains. Bring salted water to a boil, add the grains, stir, turn the heat to simmer, cover the pan and cook until the water has been absorbed and the grains are cooked (they’ll be somewhat crunchy), about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent and add the summer squash. Turn up the heat and sauté until the squash is barely cooked and just starting to brown. Set aside to cool.
Assemble the filling and stuff the collard greens. Combine the cooled freekah, vegetable mixture, raisins, capers, parsley and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt pepper. Divide the filling into six portions. Place each one on the collard leaf, toward the stem end (overlap the leaf where you cut the stem to enclose the filling. Fold in the sides and roll up tightly. Place in a baking pan sized to hold the rolls in one layer, seam-side down.
You can make this ahead to this point and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add a little water (or you could use tomato juice or vegetable broth) to the pan, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.