Turkey Cheddar and Kale Stuffed Collard Leaves
Well, Thanksgiving is over and tomorrow Miss Thing goes back to school, Mr. Man goes back to work, and life continues on – albeit with the extra fun stress of holiday shopping, and if your family is like mine – you probably still have an entire fridge full of leftovers – and if you’re anything like me, leftovers aren’t your favorite thing in the world. I mean, don’t get me wrong, everything was super yum, and I enjoyed it. But I don’t (usually – there are exceptions of course) like eating the same thing two (or three, or four) days in a row. I told Mr. Man next year we either have to have guests over that we can send food home with – or we are only going to get a turkey breast or two. We’re going to be eating leftover turkey for the rest of the month, I swear.
However, when life hands you an entire refrigerator full of leftovers and a box of fresh produce from FFTY that you forgot to reschedule – you can either whine about it (like I was just doing) or get creative. It’s not a problem – it’s an OPPORTUNITY. Yeah, I know – I’m not buying it either, but hey what can ya do. In any event, these stuffed collard leaves were a way for me to kill two birds with one large stone. I got rid of some of the leftovers (there’s still entirely too many if you ask me), and I was able to use up some of my weekly veggie box. It’s a win-win.
It’s fortunate that we have so many leftovers in one way though – my sleep schedule is seriously pooched right now, between the week of vacation and staying up all night for Black Friday sales – which has kind of become my habit over the last couple of years. I’ve found that I’d almost invariably rather stay up really really late, than get up really really early. This year, however – I made one huge mistake that … well, it kind of ruined black friday for me. <sigh> This year, Miss Thing wanted to go. And in a moment of weakness, I caved and let her go with me. Big Mistake. Huge Mistake. It was completely impossible to shop for her while she was you know… THERE. She had assured me that it would be fine, that she could just go to a different area when I shopped for her – but it seriously didn’t work out that way, and I’m NEVER doing it again. Atleast, not until she’s all growed up with kids of her own that we’re shopping for. Because that was super lame.
Er… wait, where was I? Oh – right, leftovers. Fortunately, even though I’ve been keeping some really odd hours, the leftovers in the fridge are helping make sure that Miss Thing and Mr. Man stay fed, so I haven’t really spent too much time in the kitchen post-thanksgiving, but I did take the time to make this dish the evening of Black Friday (after I woke up, naturally), and I can assure you it won’t be the last time I make something like this, because it was fantastic. I know the pictures don’t really do it justice, but it was really good. It’s an absolutely fantastic way to transform your thanksgiving leftovers in to something completely different (and tasty!) for those of you like me who just need a little variety.
I honestly can’t remember where I saw the idea for stuffing collard leaves, I’m sure it was on another blog (and it had prettier pictures than mine), but I must be super lame again, because I seriously can not find the site that I saw it on. But I immediately grasped the implications of it, and I’d actually been waiting for the next time I received Collards to try stuffing them. Considering I had all this leftover stuffing – it seemed rather like a no-brainer.
The Tomato sauce was loosely inspired by enchilada sauce – I was shooting for a tangy, tomato-y, spicy sort of thing, and I think I nailed it. Although, I would strongly recommend making the sauce to taste. I was using a Green Hot sauce that I made for Mr. Man a while back, and it’s actually fairly mild, so depending on the hot sauce you use, you might want to add less (or more – if you like it spicy). If you’re pressed for time, or just sick of being in the kitchen, you could also probably use a prepared tomato sauce. When it was done, you would never have guessed that this used to be Thanksgiving Leftovers, and it was surprisingly filling. I only had two, and that was more than enough of a meal.
- 1 Bunch Whole Collard leaves; blanched and stems removed
- 2 cups Leftover Stuffing or Dressing
- 1 cup Cooked Turkey; coarsely chopped
- 2 cups Cheddar Cheese; Shredded
- 1 bunch Kale; stems removed and chopped
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
For the Sauce:
- 1 quart Whole Stewed Tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers; chopped
- 1 onion; diced
- 4 cloves garlic; minced
- 2 tbs Cider Vinegar (or to taste)
- 3 tbs Green Hot Sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tbs Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Butter a 9×13 inch Pan
- Place the tomatoes (with liquid) in a saucepan and bring to a simmer
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 the tbs of Olive Oil
- Saute the onions until translucent and beginning to turn golden
- Add the Garlic to the onions and continue to saute until fragrant
- Transfer the onions and garlic to the tomatoes
- Add the remaining olive oil and the bell peppers
- Saute until bell peppers are tender
- Transfer the bell peppers to the tomatoes
- Simmer for ten minutes or so, then puree in blender (working in batches if neccessary)
- Return the sauce to the pan and return to a simmer
- Add the Cider Vinegar, Green Hot sauce, and kosher salt – all to taste. Set aside.
- Return the large skillet to heat over medium and add the tsp of oil
- Add the Kale and saute until kale is bright green and tender
- In a large bowl, stir together the stuffing, sauteed kale, turkey, and 1 and a 1/2 cups of the Cheddar Cheese
- To assemble, lay out one blanched Collard leaf, layering the sides of the leaf over one another (over where the stem was)
- Place Stuffing mixture near the top of the leaf, and fold the collard up, rolling and tucking the leaf (kind of similar to a burrito)
- Place the stuffed leaves in to buttered 9×13 inch Pan
- When all the leaves are stuffed and arranged in the pan, pour the tomato sauce over them – then top with remaining Cheese
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly