Collard Green Tamales

Elizabeth Falkner is obsessed with using collard greens in innovative ways like using hearty leaves as tamale wrappers, so the whole package is edible. (She even uses the stems in the tamale mix for added texture.) A drizzle of smoky mole, pecans, and chia seeds makes this one showstopping dish.


Smoky Pecan-Chia Mole:

  • 1/4 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 cup ground chia seeds or chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste


  • 1 bunch collard greens or Swiss chard, leaves whole, stems reserved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup masa
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
  • Pepper to taste
  • Oil

To Serve:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 whole limes, cut into quarters



Make the mole: in a small bowl, add goji berries and ½ cup hot water to rehydrate. Let sit for 10 minutes. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat coconut oil. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add cumin, ancho, and chipotle and cook 1 minute. Add pecans, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Add rehydrated goji berries, chocolate, vinegar, tomato paste, and 3 tablespoons water. Simmer until chocolate melts. Season with salt and let cool. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Make tamale filling: in a large pot of boiling water, blanch greens for 30 seconds, then plunge in a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside. Thinly slice the stems. Heat one tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes until stems are cooked through but not mushy.

In a saucepot, add the oats and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and add a pinch of salt and the cinnamon stick. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Cover the pot and cook for another 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Pour the oat-quinoa mixture into a large bowl and add the masa, coconut oil, anise seeds, and salt. Add the chopped stems to the mixture and let cool until room temperature. Add the cotija cheese and pepper to taste.

Make tamales: scoop 1 cup of tamale filling into a blanched leaf and roll up like a burrito: starting at one end, roll up the filling inside the leaf and then fold the sides inward while rolling. Wrap each tamale in parchment paper using the same technique.

Set in a steamer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Unwrap parchment and let cool.

Heat a cast-iron pan or a grill over medium heat. Drizzle oil on tamales and season with salt. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Serve with mole, yogurt, chopped scallions, cilantro, and a wedge of lime.


From Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food by The James Beard Foundation/Rizzoli Publishing.



8 tamales