Vegan Kale Rolls

I love today! Eric and I both had a day off. We actually have the rest of the week off since we are going to Portland tomorrow.  I can hardly wait.

Breakfast was first.  Since we don’t have the same work schedule, we usually don’t have breakfast together. Today was a nice treat – we had vegan chickpea mini quiches, which I will be sure to tell you about soon. They are incredibly delicious and easy. You can freeze them and then simply reheat them in the mornings for a nutritious and healthy weekday breakfasts.

Now we are waiting. Waiting on our new computer to arrive! Drum roll please…..we are switching to a Mac. We bought it over Christmas weekend and waiting for it to be delivered this morning. I think Eric is more excited about setting it up ( I am told it will take all day) and I am more excited about using it.

So while we are waiting, I will be unpacking from Bakersfield, packing for Portland, getting all the errands done, and sharing this kale rolls recipe with you.

I made these for Christmas dinner as a vegan alternative to Linda’s cabbage and turkey rolls. We had fun cooking side by side, chatting, and sipping wine. I used kale instead of cabbage because it has a nutritional advantage over cabbage – kale is good source of  fiber, protein, folate, iron, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium and potassium.

Ingredients
1 cup brown rice (half cooked, in vegetable broth)
2 big shallots
1 head of garlic
4 carrots, grated
6 baby potatoes, grated
6 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 2 tsp dried parsley
6 ounces mushrooms (favorite kind), roughly chopped
2 big kale bunches
15 ounce can tomato sauce
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine
salt and pepper
Optional: 1 cup pine nuts

Directions
1. Roast garlic in a 400° oven for 30 minutes. Take out and let it cool.

2. Prep the vegetables and rice. Follow instructions for the type of rice you are cooking, but cook it in vegetable broth for only half the time. Drain the rest of the liquid. My brown rice usually takes about 45-50 minutes. I cooked 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of vegetable broth for 20 minutes. You want to make sure that the rice  half cooked, so it has a slight crunch.

While the rice is cooking, grate the carrots and the potatoes on the side of the grater with the largest holes. A 4 sided box type of grater works the best, but you can use any type you prefer. Roughly chop the mushroom to medium dice, and finely dice the onions.

3. Saute vegetables.  Heat a skillet on medium-high heat with olive oil. Cook the onions for about 3 minutes, or until golden. Add the carrots and potatoes, mix, and let them cook for a about 5 minutes. The goal here is to get the potatoes and carrots slightly crispy. Add parsley, and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the shells into your pan. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are about cooked half way. Remove from the pan onto a separate plate.

4. Cook the mushrooms. Once you removed the vegetables from the pan, add the mushrooms to the same pan and cook for a few minutes until they start to brown. The idea here is to use the vegetable drippings for the mushroom saute to give them more flavor. Then de-glaze with ¼ cup of red wine and cook for a few more minutes, until the mushrooms are done.

5. Prepare the kale. This is a 3 step process. Wash the kale, de-stem the kale, and dunk the kale into hot water for 3 seconds. Then, put on a plate to dry. To de-stem, you will have to cut the kale into two pieces, and remove the middle stem. Boil water in a big pot. Using tongs, just dunk the kale in and take it right out. This will make the kale easier to roll.

5. Combine. Add the vegetables, mushrooms, and the rice into the pan and mix all together.

6. Rock and Roll.  This could get a bit tricky. Think of it as wrapping a package. First, take two pieces of kale and lay side by side, one side overlapping another. Then spoon the mixture in the middle of the kale pieces.

Lay a third piece of kale perpendicular to the other two pieces, on top of the mixture.

Bring the top edges toward the bottom, then the bottom edges toward the top, and then flip to the other side and bring the two middle edges together. I know this sounds complicated, but once you start doing it, you’ll see that it’s not hard at all. It doesn’t really matter how you wrap them, as long as the rice mixture is secure in the middle.

7. Make the sauce and cook. The sauce is really simple. Just combine 1 can of tomatoes sauce with 1 cup of the vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Put it on the bottom  of your pan, and lay the kale rolls on top. Seal with a lid and cook for 25 more minutes on medium-low heat. You can also use a pressure cooker (like I did here), but you absolutely don’t have to. If using a pressure cooker, just cook for about 6 minutes.

8. Garnish. Serve hot. Spoon the sauce on top of the rolls and garnish with toasted pine nuts.The pine nuts give the rolls a nice crunch. To toast, cook in a 400° oven for about 4 minutes. After the first two minutes shake the baking sheet and cook for the remaining 2 minutes.

Kale rolls are a bit involved, but are great if you want to make a double batch for leftovers, or if you’re having people over for dinner. If you want to skip a few steps, you can always completely cook the vegetables and rice the first time around and just wrap the mixture into the steamed kale (without having to cook it in the tomato sauce). I highly recommend giving these a try though (whatever version you decide to make).

Our flight to Portland leaves really early tomorrow, so we have to be out of the house by 4 am. Did I mention how excited I am? 

See you in Portland!

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    My name is Maria and I live in California. I love teaching high-energy Pilates classes, going on long runs, and making connections with all of you! Hope you find a few useful articles, fitness tips, and recipes while you're here.

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