Growing up in the Middle East, there are a few North American festivities that I was introduced to much later in life than folks who have lived here their entire lives. For example, when I moved back at the ripe age of 19 to go to university, I didn’t really know what Oktoberfest was all about, and I certainly didn’t realize that I’d moved to a city known for having the second-largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world. Similarly, having attended a British international school from the ages of 13-18, the Superbowl was pretty much a non-event. Football, for all intents and purposes, referred to what North Americans know as soccer, and rather than having high school football teams (as in, American football), if my male friends were interested in contact sports, they were on the rugby pitch.
Then there’s March Madness. Up until starting university in 2006, I had no idea what it was. Some super busy time of year? Craziness around booking last-minute flights for March break? Surely it had nothing to do with a shopping event like Black Friday because I stay up to speed on things like that. Eventually I learned that March Madness refers to the NCAA basketball tournament that determines the national champions of college-level basketball in the US. (All of you US readers are probably going “duh” right about now, so pardon my lack of experience on this topic.)
Just like I’ve never been one to get super excited about the Superbowl (with the exception of the commercials and half time shows), March Madness has never had me on the edge of my seat either. However, both of these events seem to be embraced by foodies as opportunities to make snacks – just pop on over to Pinterest and you’ll see what I mean. Recently, I was tasked with the challenge of creating such a dish with Dole Chopped Salad Kits (known as Chop Chop Salads in Canada).
Using one of the kits, I was asked to prepare a recipe that could be dunked (March Madness, basketball, you get it right?), and one that would serve as a healthy snack while enjoying the tournament. There are 5 blends to choose from (which vary slightly between Canada and the US) and they look like this:
While salads aren’t really the first thing that come to my mind as a vehicle for carrying dip or eating with your fingers, I did have an idea in mind.
Starting with the Asian Chopped Salad blend, I gathered up a couple more ingredients…
… and went to town on making some veggie-packed collard wraps. Now, if you’ve never tried making a collard wrap before, or if the thought of having it all fall apart in your hands has deterred you, I’ll let you in on my secrets. Here’s the first:
First, cut out the tough stems. This will help the leaves to roll more easily and helps you avoid the issue of the stem breaking and letting the fillings burst out. Secondly, layer up a couple of large leaves for greater durability. I like to make mine overlap so that the top one covers the area where the bottom one’s stem was cut out.
And thirdly, don’t try to overfill them. As shown below, plop your fillings at one end, leaving some space near the edges to fold the leaves in.
After that, just roll away!
We’ll get to the specifics in just a second, but we can’t go on without first discussing the dip. I thought about doing a peanut sauce (my current fave) but realized I had a very ripe avocado that needed to be used ASAP. Guacamole is a whole lot more Mexican than it is Asian, but I put a little Eastern twist on it by adding some minced ginger, cilantro, tamari, rice vinegar, and chili flakes. The result was creamy, smooth perfection and I can’t wait for you to try this because I think you’ll love it too.
Ok, and now for the full recipe.
Rainbow Collard Wraps with Asian-Inspired Guacamole
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (4 as appetizer)
- 8 large collard leaves
- 2 cups Dole Chopped Asian Blend salad (a mix of cabbage, kale, sugar snap peas, and shredded carrots)
- ½ cup tofu shirataki noodles, well-rinsed and drained
- ½ ripe mango, julienned
- 1 cup shelled defrosted edamame
- ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro
- 1 ripe avocado, roughly mashed
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 packed tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp low sodium tamari
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- juice of ½ lime
- a few pinches of dried chili flakes
- Wash the collard greens and remove any thick stems, leaving the rest of the leaves in tact.
- In a large bowl, combine the Asian salad blend, noodles, edamame and cilantro. Set aside.
- To make the Asian guacamole, combine all ingredients (avocado through chili flakes) in a blender. Puree until smooth, then use a spatula to scoop into a small dish. (You should have about 1 cup of this dip.)
- Layering 2 collard leaves on top of each other, arrange a handful of the veggie and noodle mixture on one end. Fold the side edges inward, then roll up the leaves together, wrapping the veggies inside.
- Continue until all leaves are used, placing the rolls seam-side down on a plate. Serve with the Asian guacamole.
In addition my rainbow collard wraps, there are some other great healthy snack ideas over on the Dole Salads website, including…
The ‘Super Dunk’ – If you’re a fan of cheese balls, you’ll enjoy this one! The Asian Chopped Salad kit has been used in this recipe as a coating for a spiced up ball of cream cheese, and is served with a bunch of veggies and crackers.
Avocado Spring Rolls – These are stuffed with the Asian Chopped Salad blend, some extra veggies, sweet chili sauce, and a few other ingredients, and served with a sesame-soy dipping sauce. Sign me up!
Now it’s over to you. Tell me…
- Do you get excited about March Madness? Or are you like me and use it as a reason to make fun snacks? 😉
- If you could have any pre-chopped, ready-to-eat salad blend you wanted, what would it contain?