SUPER POWERED TOMATO & BASIL COLLARD WRAPS

super-vegan protein power tomato basil collard wraps // @thefirstmesscollards // @thefirstmesstomatoes // @thefirstmessbasil in the garden // @thefirstmesssuper-vegan protein power tomato basil collard wraps // @thefirstmess
I will say this with comfort and clarity because I know I’m not alone: it’s surprisingly easy to get overwhelmed by life on a regular basis–the wonderful parts, but also the more stress-inducing bits. We’re away for a bit on the east coast of Canada this week with my man’s family and all I could think about leading up to our departure was A) How much stuff I have to take care of before I get in the car with my duffel bag, snacks and camera, B) How much stuff I could be accomplishing if we weren’t going, and C) How realistic/possible it would be to get some work done while we’re ON vacation. I can’t be the only person who thinks this way. In the same moment, there is a pull of necessity from the natural world calling for release, but also the thoughts of deadlines, career, and the “How will we ever get ahead of it all?” questions that shore up in the weaker moments.

My tendency, when there’s too much going on is to go inward a bit and figure out why it’s all happening. It takes a while for inspiration, in the form of human interaction, something I’ve read/seen, or a moment of intentional quietude, to pull me up back into life and living. I’m a worrier and an over-thinker to the end–just how I operate. But I had a very relaxed contractor/landscaper at the house the other day, just as the sky was darkening for another round of rain. He was giving me an estimate on a new deck and shelter structure, and we were talking about what a mess the yard had been when we moved in. The drops were puttering around and he calmly said something about being able to see past the the frustrating/messy aspects of less desirable situations because he had the experience to know that it all works out in the end. Pretty much exactly what I needed to hear, even if he was just talking about outdoor living spaces.

I think we get a bit more confident leaning into the “Everything’s going to be alright” mentality as years go on. I still make decisions on a whim and overcommit myself 98 percent of the time, but I feel stronger in putting my head down and getting to the work in a more intelligent way than ever before.

In addition to seeing ahead and having faith, I’ve been coming up with cooler recipe ideas and just making better things in general. My first exposure to the collard-as-wrap was in Sara’s book actually, and I was immediately pulled in by her emphasis on avoiding the “hippie mush” problem when fixing them up. This version has some highly varied textures and lots of delicious and summery bits from the tomatoes and basil. Marinated and charred tempeh, chickpea mash, a little sundried tomato flecked quinoa, maybe a balsamic drizzle here and there. It’s lots of plant-powered protein in a little leafy package.

So I’m off to re-charge the batteries on that eastern shore. Catch ya next week or perhaps on Instagram in the meantime? :)

tempeh marination // @thefirstmessgrilled // @thefirstmesssuper-vegan protein power tomato basil collard wraps // @thefirstmesssuper-vegan protein power tomato basil collard wraps // @thefirstmesssuper-vegan protein power tomato basil collard wraps // @thefirstmess
SUPER POWERED TOMATO & BASIL COLLARD WRAPS RECIPE
Print the recipe here!
SERVES:
 4
NOTES: Like any decent burrito or wrap-type thing, overstuffing these will lead to failure/messes everywhere. If you’re transporting them, I would recommend securing with toothpicks before you go anywhere, just so there aren’t any surprises at your destination.

1 block of tempeh, cut into half inch strips
1 chili, sliced
4-5 sprigs of basil, divided
splash of red wine vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
olive oil
salt + pepper
1/2 cup quinoa
handful of sundried tomatoes (not the oil-packed ones), small dice
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2-3 tbsp tomato sauce
8 large collard leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced (or 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes halved)
balsamic glaze/reduction (optional!)

In a shallow dish, place the tempeh pieces, sliced chili, 2-3 tablespoons of chopped basil, the red wine vinegar, sliced shallot and a good glug of olive oil. Season the mix with salt and pepper and toss to coat the tempeh. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water and a fat pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the quinoa to a boil and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Scrape quinoa into a medium mixing bowl and allow to cool.

Once cool, to the quinoa add a glug of olive oil, 2-3 tbsp chopped basil, the diced sundried tomatoes, and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

In a shallow dish, mash the chickpeas with the tomato sauce, salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. You want a mixture that kind of holds together but also a few whole chickpeas too. Set aside.

Heat a grill to high and place the marinated tempeh slices on the grates. Grill both sides until char marks appear, about 4 minutes per side.

To make the collard wraps, start by laying one collard leaf down on a cutting board so that it’s on a horizontal orientation. Lay another collard leaf on top, overlapping the stem ends considerably. You should have an almost solid rectangular-ish sheet of collard green now. It almost looks like a very chunky figure 8. Spoon some of the chickpea mash into the middle, pressing it down. Lay two tempeh slices on top of the chickpea mash. Then place some sliced tomato on top of the tempeh. Place a few slices of tomato and whole leaves of basil on top. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze if you like. Pull up the long side of the collard wrap and fold it over the filling. Bring in the short sides as if you were making a burrito. Then roll the whole thing until you’ve sealed the wrap.

Repeat this process with remaining ingredients. Secure wraps with toothpicks if necessary. Slice wraps in half to serve.

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