Friday, May 20, 2011

Green Wrap, Curried Tofu Fingers

God, those both sound like Berkeley garage bands. Or unenticing menu items from the Whole Earth cafe. Or 1970s vegetarian porn stars. But there it is. As for the Curried Tofu Fingers, that is the recipe from the first Cooking with Ben blog over at ChopChop. I am guessing that he was just really ready to cook already, or something, but I thank my lucky stars I got that job over there, because it has totally changed our lives: Ben now cooks dinner once a week. While I lie around fanning myself with a palm leaf and reading the Garnet Hill catalogue and enjoying my own personal happy hour. I'd be grateful if you'd go over and read it. Plus, that recipe rocks (it's not mine--not that I seem to worry about immodesty anyways).

Green Wrap is the first Mama Lunch! Yay. "Mama Lunch" means that I'm not officially recommending it as a family meal, even though you might head down that path on your own. "Mama Lunch" means that you're eating it and enjoying it all by your ownself, either while your kids are at school, or while they're home, flitting around worriedly, saying, "Are you really going to eat that?" And yes. Yes you are.

Green Wrap is also what we call around here "deja new," meaning that you've never heard of it ever in your entire life, but then suddenly you've heard about it a hundred times in a week. Apparently, these are all the rage everywhere, though I've never actually eaten one out or anything, because I am too cheap to pay for a collard leaf stuffed with stuff I already have at home. Hence, the making of them. And make no mistake: they are delicious. There is something so utterly energizing about how green they taste; I eat one (or two) and then feel very boingy and glad, like I'm on a psychic pogo stick (in a good way) with none of that bread-heaviness of a sandwich. It's like a chlorophyll burrito (in a good way).

It starts with two large, clean, raw collard leaves. Cut the stems flush with the base, then trim the center rib flush with the leaf so that it's not huge and thick, which would prevent the leaf from rolling up nicely.


Then you massage the leaves with olive oil, because you love them that much and it's almost Father's Day. A little drizzle of olive oil, and also a sprinkle of salt, and then you rub it on the side of the leaf facing up, which is technically the bottom of the leaf even though it's on top. Why am I making this sound so complicated? Because I'm tired. I had the same boring dream all night long--a dream that I was reading. Seriously. And I love reading--but it makes for a really boring, ennervating dream. Anyways, oil and salt the leaves and they will get nice and dark and supple and shiny. Comme ca.

I can haz cheeseburger? No.
And then you add your filling. My filling here is diced pickled beets, feta, and toasted walnuts, which was crazy delicious but kind of a mess. Ideally your filling would include something creamy, like hummus or guacamole, to kind of stick everything together so that it doesn't all fall out while you're eating. This exact filling, but whirled for a minute in the food processor, would have been ideal. I like to add something crunchy always, like nuts or toasted pepitas.

And then you tuck the ends in towards the center and roll it up, just like a burrito. 

And then you cut it in half, to show off a little bit, at which point you wish you'd used a different filling so that it didn't all look like it was falling out. But still.

Enjoy your weekend, my darlings. 


  1. Ooh, ooh, I might be the first comment. And I never make your stuff even though I read the recipes obsessively, but I have the perfect friend to make these for/share with, and she's coming for lunch in a few weeks! Awesome!

    Also, 70's Vegetarian Porn Stars would also make a great name for a garage band. Curried Tofu Fingers would be the opening act.

  2. You know, I just went through a phase of obsessively making these, only I was using romaine leaves instead of collard, and oh my those collard leaves are a much better idea. Will fetch some of those asap.
    And everyone in my house did indeed keep asking, "Are you eating it just like THAT? Just LETTUCE?"

  3. MaOdiLeo10:58 AM

    Congratulations to Ben (and his mom) for the first blog at ChopChop! Really inspiring.
    We are -almost- doing the perfect veggie burgers tonight at my community cooking group. They looked too good. I have a last minute question: any idea, anyone, for something to replace the walnuts by something not nut :) (my daughter is allergic) ??? Thanks.

  4. MaOdiLeo, that's a tricky one . . . I feel like you want both the substance and the oiliness of the nuts. Maybe oats, and some amount of additional oil or butter? Not sure. . . oh, wait, or mushrooms, finely chopped and sauteed with the onions?

  5. ladidah11:19 AM

    love the new column over at chopchop!

  6. Anonymous11:23 AM

    i do this with lettuce, chard, etc. my fave: stuffed with (your?) veggie burgers. yum!


  7. I have never before bought collard greens, and I have just put them on the shopping list.

  8. They're so good. Seriously. You'll be amazed, and also very virtuous-feeling. xo

  9. Catherine,

    Love the new gig, and the new chef in the house (who, delightfully, has his own nutty Newman humor).

    Have a great weekend,

  10. Also, just have to mention:

    1) I made a mix of your buttermilk cake and brazilian chocolate for my daughter's 4th birthday this month (buttermilk batter, but in a bundt with a fruity layer and chocolate glaze frosting). Came out great.
    2) defrosted some Catherine Newman beet dip this weekend - so delicious!


  11. Oh, what a beautiful kid Ben is! My own beautiful kid (am I allowed to say that?) is somewhat young (6) to try cooking himself, I mean ALL BY himself, if you know what I mean. But I'm tempted to subscribe to Chop Chop anyway, because he has grown a little, um, narrow-minded in his tastes (despite his babyhood devouring of pureed organic kale etc.), and I think it would help if he had some more involvement with the process.

  12. I love the part "What Ben Learned" over at Chop Chop (where the vegetable oil is! Ha!). My kids can only cook eggs and bacon, but mostly just succeed in burning the bottom of the pans (mostly due to the bacon being made from turkey). This is a lesson in itself because they have also learned the value behind soaking the pan afterwards. I think we might try these tofu fingers as my kiddos enjoy food made with healthy white sponges.
    PS. I love your new writing gig!

  13. Somehow, even though I love beets and I love pickles, I have never had pickled beets! I kind of want to leave work right now and go to the grocery and get some. This recipe looks delicious, and I adored the ChopChop post too! Ben is so cool.

  14. MaOdiLeo12:55 PM

    THANKS. A combination of oats and mushrooms, maybe. Will try and let know how it turns! Or maybe, also, roasted chickpeas... Nice weekend to all!

  15. dale in denver3:40 PM

    I would so love to try this, but, unfortunately with the Rapture happening tomorrow I'm afraid I'm out of time. And you non-believers only have 5 months, so chop chop.

    ha ha.

    Love love love Cooking with Ben. He's delightful.

    And it so totally and completely rocks that he's got pink fingernails for the inaugural post. He's such a beautiful boy.

    Word verification: rojork - what all the Judgement Day folks will be called when we run into them on Sunday.

  16. Jennifer LB8:47 PM

    I've barely recovered from laughing over your kale chips column and now you're massaging collards. Silly woman!

  17. Congrats on the ChopChop blog! I loved it and will definitely be trying the tofu with/for my boys!

    Walnut substitute idea: use some ground flax seeds soaked in water (1tbsp flax seed + 3 tbsp warm water= 1 egg) with the oats and mushrooms. We had an egg and nut allergy, and flax seeds were our magic replacement for many things. It can act as a binder with the oils similar to the walnuts (i think).

  18. Teafortwo9:30 PM

    Went to two panels today at BlogHer Food: one on Cooking without a Recipe and one with five TEENAGED food bloggers. I giggling quite a bit at the 18 year old who calls himself the Sophisticated Gourmet. Lots of fun. Wish you were here!

  19. love the new Chop Chop blog, and I just subscribed. I can only hope that my growing chefs are as great as Ben! And when did he get so grown up, anyway?

  20. Angela7:39 AM

    Think I might be missing the healthy point, but I would be inclined to substitute the walnuts with salted potato chips like Kettle Chips, crunched up (I am allergic to walnuts too, and chips are just so yummy :) )

  21. Ooh, those look delicious! I can't wait to try them. My hubby will be thrilled. :)

    Ben! That's so awesome! I can't wait to read more of your adventures. :)

    One last thing...we adapted your pretzels with pumpkin, and they were very well received so I thought I'd send you a link:

  22. Allyson9:30 PM

    First off, yum! I'm going to be making these when my CSA starts giving us giant collard leaves next month. Second, I LOVE your Chop Chop blog. I hate curry, but we're going to make some other version of tofu fingers (five spice maybe?) soon. Finally, I remember a long time ago you joked that you should start a blog called "What's Good at Trader Joe's?". Well, here you go:

    My verification word is "lutsh" which sounds like it should be Yiddish for drunk. Works for me.

    P.S. I hope you weren't taken up in the Rapture, because I'd really miss Monday's post.

  23. I totally thought this post was going to be about how when you make things with curry, your fingers turn yellow. You know, curried fingers.

    I love the idea of Mama Lunches. And the idea of kids cooking for one day a week. Biding my time... although Kai does all the garlic peeling and chopping these days. (Yes!)

  24. Oh, then I read the post at Chop Chop and saw that it IS about curried fingers! ha!

  25. I have never had a collard leaf that wasn't smothered (I'm from Louisiana), but I'm willing to give this a try. I've also never had a beet that wasn't from a can; however, your beet dip is on the menu this weekend!
    My mama lunch would be called coworker lunch. Every day my coworkers peer into my dish to see what weird vegetarian lunch I've brought. I think the collard wraps would be worth bringing just for the looks.
    My word verification is coaxess, which sounds like a woman that seductively coaxes people into things.

  26. I just got a bunch of collard greens from our CSA and was thinking wraps but wasn't sure if they would work. YEA!!! Thanks ;)

  27. I just checked in here and am so excited to see the beautiful Ben cooking! I just subscribed to the magazine and cannot wait for my kids start cooking once a week along with Ben.