Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Black Quinoa and Cremini Collard Rolls with Tahina Dipping Sauce

     While I was at my parents house over the holidays, I had quite a few opportunities to experiment in the kitchen. I pretty much spent my entire two week vacation in the kitchen, which is exactly what I like to do on my time off. I had been thinking up this recipe for quite some time and knew it would be perfect for hors d'oeuvre for either Christmas eve or New Years eve. More an hors d'oeuvre than an appetizer, these finger sized rolls can be eaten with your fingers with a glass of wine in your other hand while chatting with friends and family. 

     This is a two part recipe, first the rolls and then the dipping sauce. When conceptualizing the rolls, I wanted something that would be fresh but nutty. For the freshness I used lemon. There's lemon everywhere in this dish: in the rolls, on top of the rolls and in the sauce, without being too lemony. As for the nuttyness, I chose a dark quinoa. I chose black quinoa, but any quinoa would work in this dish. Collard greens are a great vessel for these small rolls. Unlike cabbage rolls, collard greens are easy to manipulate when rolling and tend to stick to themselves after they are blanched. All of this results in a sturdy roll that can be dipped in tahina for a tasty treat.

     Tahina (salatit tahina) is a Middle eastern sauce of tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon and water, and sometimes garlic (though not included in my recipe below). If tahini is new to you, you can usually locate it in the ethnic food sections of larger grocery stores and even in the canned goods section of some dollarstores. Tahina complements these rolls perfectly, so don't neglect it. The rolls really aren't the same by themselves. If you take a look at the measurements for the dip below, you'll notice they aren't that exact. Truth behold, every brand of tahini is different, it might be thicker or oilier, and depending on these properties you may need more or less water, and the proportion of salt and lemon juice will need to be adjusted accordingly. Just taste as you go, and once it is a good consistency, adjust to your tastes. This dip is very versatile, and can be further watered down to create a tasty salad dressing.

Serves: 8-12 (2 servings each) to 16-24 (1 serving each)


Quinoa and Cremini Collard Rolls

  • 1 medium bunch of collard greens (large leafs) (alternatively, use swiss chard if you cannot find collards)
  • 1/2 cup black quinoa, or red if black is not available
  • 8 oz cremini or white mushrooms* 
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
    • 1/2 juiced, about 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 sliced, put aside for later
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley or 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1/8 tsp each of salt and pepper
*Try and use as many cremini mushrooms as possibly as they have a more robust flavour than the white button mushrooms, I only used white buttons when I photographed the recipe because we had run out of our creminis.

Tahina Dip (Salatit Tahina)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ~1/3 cup water
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
  • ~1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • A quick grind of black pepper to garnish


  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove top, cover, and bring to a boil. While its heating up, wash your collards. Once the water is boiling, put the collard greens (stem still in) in the boiling water, and blanch for about 3 minutes or until the leaves are a rich green. 
  2. Meanwhile, prepare a large metal or plastic mixing bowl with cold water, you can add ice to make it colder if you can't get the temperature down enough. After 3 minutes remove the collards and submerge in the ice bath to cool them down so that they are cool enough to handle. Lay out the leaves in a single layer between two tea towels to dry.
  3. In a large microwaveable soup bowl combine 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup of water. Seal closed the bowl with plastic wrap and then microwave at 60% for 8 minutes, then stir, then microwave for another 5 minutes, this time at 100%. Remove from the microwave, if any water remains, microwave for additional minutes, one at a time at 100%, until all the water is absorbed. Alternatively you can cook your quinoa on the stove top as per manufacturers instructions. Let cool.
  4. While your quinoa is in the microwave, wash you mushrooms with a damp cloth. Cut the stems off your mushrooms and discard the waste from your onion. The mushrooms and onion can then be given a fine chop, or rough mince. You can do this by hand or you can do this in a food processor (so much easier, I love my food processor), on a medium speed in pulses. 
  5. Heat up a large pan with olive oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms, until the water has been released and evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix quinoa, mushroom and onion mixture, lemon juice, and spices. This will be your filling. 
  7. Cut the vein out of the collard greens, cutting the large leaves in half so that you have two leaf-segments to use for the collard rolls.
  8. Place one heaping tablespoon in the center of the leaf, fold in the two sides and roll like a burrito, making sure to keep it all tight.
  9. Place the rolls in a 9" x 9" pyrex dish, pack tightly, seam down so that the rolls don't unroll, until they are cooked (they are still a bit fragile).
  10. Place the sliced lemons on top of the rolls (if you are refrigerating, wait till you are about to put the dish in the oven to put the lemons on) and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 25 minutes or until the rolls are hot and steamy. 
  11. Meanwhile prepare the tahina, by shaking (or whisking vigorously) together the tahini and the water, start with only 1/4 cup water and add more as you go. If your tahini is loose, you may not need to add all the water. Mix in the lemon and salt, add more to your liking. 
  12. Serve the rolls warm next to a bowl of tahina and enjoy with friends or family.