Low Carb, Gluten Free, and Vegan: Collard Wraps Are For Everyone

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Collard wraps are beautiful, versatile, and convenient—something I’d be pissed off to have to give up for some inane medical reason. Since collard greens are gluten free (these are leaves) and low carb (approximately 1 g CHO per leaf), we can keep them. They’re also nutritious, with fiber, vitamins, and minerals galore. They’re so useful, they should be ubiquitous by now. Why is our community not more fired up about collard wraps? A few common misconceptions might be getting in the way.

MISCONCEPTION #1 The leaves will rot in my fridge before I use them.

Did you know you can buy one collard leaf? Many grocery stores display collards in bundles, but sell them by the pound. This means you can choose just the specific leaf or leaves that speak to you. For wraps, you want big ones with no holes or yucky brown edges. Select one or two that look promising, and see how it goes.

Another good thing to know about collards is they can hang out in the fridge for a long time without aging. If you buy them today, pop them into the fridge, get whisked away on an adventure, and return a week or two later, your collards will still be good to eat.

MISCONCEPTION #2: This is going to be a pain in the ass.

Collard wraps are very easy to make. You can prep one or two or a whole stack of leaves in advance, and leave them on a plate in the fridge. Maybe, like me, your introduction to collard wraps came from a fussy person. The person who indoctrinated me had me massage each leaf with olive oil and salt. The goal was to tenderize the collards, so they’d be more pliable for rolling. This is unnecessary. The same goes for steaming the leaves. I have never met a collard leaf too tough to bite, and I have standard teeth and jaws. Other collard wrappers would have you hack the large central rib out of the leaf. In my experience, this creates a shape like baby pants, and makes tidy rolls difficult to achieve.

My leaf prep method is fast and easy. This is how I do it:

1. Wash a collard leaf.

2. Get a paring knife. 

3. Notice the leaf’s central rib—see how it protrudes on one side? You can pare some of this excess off, without removing the rib (which would make a hole, which could lead to a mayo leak). There is no magic or precision required. Just shave off some of the thickest part of the rib and you are done.

MISCONCEPTION #3: This is for extremists.

Collard wraps are not just for vegan raw foodists. You can fill a collard wrap with Velveeta and Miracle Whip or with micro greens and kale-walnut pesto. Maybe you just want ham and cheese with mustard. This is allowed. Collard wraps are for everyone.

When filling wraps, I place my ingredients on the leaf along the central rib, which serves as a handy guide for lining things up. Filling combos are infinite and customizable. Cooked meats or vegetables left over from last night’s dinner, sliced deli meats and cheeses, spreads like boursin or tahini, slathered-on condiments like sriracha mayo or fancy mustard…anything goes! However, I propose one rule: chop, or at least bisect, ingredients like olives, grapes, and cherry tomatoes, to avoid bloop-outs.

Some of my favorite fillings:

  • Egg salad + olives
  • Hummus + cheddar + chopped tomatoes + grated carrots
  • Roasted chicken + mayo + grapes + celery
  • Cold grilled vegetables + provolone

Time to roll the thing up! It works like a burrito. Fold a few inches of the top and bottom of the leaf toward each other, then roll the leaf closed nice and tight, parallel to the rib. The money shot comes when you cut your roll in half and admire your favorite ingredients framed by the bright green leaf. Or leave the thing uncut, and take it to go.

 

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