Stuffed collard greens with tart tomato sauce recipe

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This all-in-one meal is filling and satisfying. It has a hint of smoke from the bacon, sweet aromatics from the paprika, and an unexpected crunch from the sunflower seeds. To crush the tomatoes, either break them up with your hands or mash them in the pot with a potato masher. Being from the South, I like to cook my own black-eyed peas, but it’s OK to use canned or frozen. The collards can be blanched, rice mixture cooked, and sauce made up to two days ahead. Assemble and bake just before serving.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings


  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 12 large collard green leaves, thick stems discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¾ cup long-grain white rice
  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
How to Make It
  1. Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the collards, 1 to 2 at a time, until bright green and tender, 30 to 40 seconds. Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 22 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, make the rice. Cook the bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small plate, reserving the fat in the saucepan. Add the celery, onion, pepper, and oregano to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the paprika and cook, stirring, until darkened, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the rice and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer until the rice is tender, 14 to 16 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes. Stir the sunflower seeds, peas, and cooked bacon with a fork.
  4. Place a little of the rice (about 1⁄3 cup) in the middle of one of the collards. Fold the sides over the filling, then roll, lengthwise, to completely enclose. Place, seam-side down, on the tomato sauce. Repeat with the remaining collards and rice.
  5. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes.

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