After being off for three glorious weeks enjoying time with family and friends it’s time to head back on the road tomorrow! I’m so thankful for my job for many reasons, but most of all it sometimes (more so as your seniority goes up) allows you to set up your schedule in such a way that you can get these giant chunks of time off for vacations or staycations. And best of all, because of this three-week hiatus I’m fully ready to go back, and also feel a new pep in my food prep step!
I came across a recipe for tofu collard wraps and they just looked so delicious, light, fresh, ANNND for all my on-the-fly-eaters, no silverware or heating required! Which I was the most excited about. Yes, I have silverware in my lunch box, and pack versatile dishes, but sometimes there’s not a whole lot of time for you to find a microwave or sit-down and eat with a fork like a real human and sometimes you just don’t want to worry about either! Which is always so frustrating when searching for food prep inspiration. If I had an office with guaranteed kitchenette or only had to pack for one lunch a day I could easily just pack the beautifully garnished and portioned Pinterest salads, but for those of us with limited space and appliances we need to get a little creative.
It’s so important to find a food packing routine that works for your life and is easy to put together. I have been in the various chicken-and-veggies routine for so long because it’s not only healthy, but easy to pack and put together. Which is great for the busy months, but again, been off for a while and have time to experiment. And thank God for that because I gotta be honest and tell you this recipe was WORK. It has many steps and takes quite a bit of time. This is certainly not a recipe for when you’re working back to back trips or only have one day off, but I will 100% do it again. This recipe made six rolls for my trip (lunch and dinner for three days) and then two for our dinner last night. That is a lot of meals for the time I put in, so I was so glad I took the time to try something new.
And when I say “something new” I mean really new. I love a summer roll from the Thai restaurants, but I’ve never tried to make anything like it and on top of that I’ve never worked with a meat substitute. Along with some other small adjustments and substitutions in this recipe the Tasty version uses tofu, which I’m not the greatest fan of, so in my recipe I use tempeh. Tempeh is also a soy product, but instead of the pressed curds from soy milk, its whole soybeans (and other grains) that have been fermented and formed into a block. I like the texture of tempeh far more than tofu and it also has more protein, fiber, and because of the fermentation it’s even got some probiotics. It’s also surprisingly cheap. I went to Trader Joe’s and got a few packs of tempeh for $1.99 each! So again, this recipe is a lot of work, but it makes such a nice stock pile of food for not a whole lot of money. Worth it! Go on, give it a try and let me know what you think!
What you’ll need for the wraps:
- 1 bunch of collard leaves
- Julienned carrots
- 1 cucumber
- 2 packs of tempeh (Trader Joe’s has a wonderful option)
- Mint leaves
- Basil leaves
- Green onion
What you’ll need for the Tempeh marinade and cooking:
- 1 T tamari sauce
- 1 T Sriracha
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 T sesame oil
What you’ll need for the peanut sauce:
- 1/2 cup natural/ unsweetened peanut butter (I like crunchy, but creamy works too)
- 1 T Sriracha (or a little more to taste! I added about 1/2 tsp more)
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 T honey
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 T water (or a little more if you want a thinner sauce)
- 1/8 tsp of salt to taste.
Heres what you do:
- Get your collard leaves and a pairing knife and fillet the spine of the collard so it’s as close to the leaf as possible. This makes the leaf more flexible and easier to fold. Honestly this was the most tedious part… once you’re done with this its a pretty easy-going recipe.
- Get a pot of salted water boiling and blanch your leaves. Drop them in the water for about a minute or so (until they’re bright green) and then immediately put them in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Once leaves are cool to touch feel free to hang them to dry off if you have the space, or just take a few paper towels and lightly blot them then put them to the side for later assembly.
- In a small bowl make your tempeh marinade: mix your soy sauce, Sriracha, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Set it to the side, but close by, you’ll need it soon.
- Take your tempeh and cut into roughly 1 inch strips. (I wound up with 8 sections per pack of tempeh and used 2 strips per roll.) and place in casserole dish side by side.
- Now take the marinade and pour over and brush all over the tempeh. Making sure to coat every inch of it so it can soak up all those flavors! Let this sit for about 20 minutes.
- While that’s marinating let’s make the peanut sauce! (I could eat this stuff on its own, it’s so good) Mix your peanut butter, Sriracha, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, water, and salt in a bowl and set it with the collards to get acquainted for when assembly time comes.
- And since we’ve still got some time before the tempeh is some marinating lets cut up that cucumber into thin slices. Set those aside along with the julienned carrots, mint leaves, basil, and green onion.
- Now the tempeh should be ready to go. Get some sesame oil in a skillet and put that on med-high heat. Place your tempeh in the skillet flat (you may need to do this in batches, and that’s ok. We don’t need the tempeh hot) let it cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until crispy.
- Do some stretches, refill your drink, whatever you need to do to hold on for a little bit longer because we are ready for assembly!
- Get your leaves laid out and smear some peanut sauce down the middle of the leaf.
- Place your cooked tempeh onto the peanut sauce.
- Top with carrots, cucumber, mint, basil (I only used one leaf of each per roll. Rip it into bits and place along the top of the cucumber), and your chopped green onion.
- Now fold like a burrito! Start by holding in the ends towards each other. Whats great about these collard leaves is that they stick to themselves so they make for a very sturdy wrap.
There ya have it! Now I’ve got plenty of yummy and very healthy grab-and-go wraps to keep me on the right track while I’m gone! But this recipe would also work well for my friends with 9-5’s. This made 8 wraps total! That’s a full weeks worth of wraps, or the full work week if you take two to work with you, for just a few hours of work. Meal prep isn’t always quick and easy, but I promise its worth it 🙂