Lau Lau’s are leaves stuffed with sweet potatoes and steamed. This is a very typical luau dish in Hawaii. I have made plenty of times stuffed cabbage leaves (not to self… share these recipes on the blog), but I have never worked with collard greens, as the recipes I found on the internet called for. I was prepared to make this recipe with large kale leaves or even cabbage. I was so pleased to see collard greens in the supermarket. Yay!!!!
Again… this recipe is not difficult at all. It just has a few steps to it to ensure the end result looks and tastes as good as it can be.
I don’t know how large they make these in Hawaii… but I had to cook for at least 40 people, and we had 10+ dishes for people to choose from, so I made them small. I used half a collard green leaf for each lau lau packet. If the leaf was small, I used one whole leaf. You can certainly make them as large or as small as you wish.
The folding takes a little getting used to just until you figure out the best way to keep all the delicious sweet potato mash inside the green leaf.
10-12 collard greens leaves
2 medium-sized white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
10 cremini mushrooms – chopped
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large onion, chopped small
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 vegetable bouillon cube
About ½ cup coconut milk
Salt and Freshly cracked Black Pepper
- In a medium saucepan, add sweet potato pieces and salted water to a boil. Cook until they’re cooked and can be pierced easily with a fork. Set aside leaving them in the cooking water to maintain warm.
- Fill a large but shallow pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Salt water heavily, as if you’re cooking pasta. Place a few collard greens leaves at a time and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until slightly soft and color gets bright green. Transfer to a bowl filled with salted ice water for leaves to cool and stop cooking. This will also preserve the bright green color. When leaves are cool, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, drizzle a little olive oil and sauté onions, peppers, garlic with the vegetable bouillon cube. Add cremini mushrooms and cook until they get a little color. Add spinach and combine all the flavors together. Season with salt and pepper one last time and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the boiled sweet potatoes and mash them with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the cooked mushrooms, spinach and veggies to the sweet potatoes and mash it all together. Soften the mash by adding coconut milk. Go little by little to make a soft mash. Try not to add too much coconut milk or it might get soupy.
- Pat dry the collard greens leaves. Cut away the stem from each leaf. I then cut each leaf, which are generally pretty large in half, along the same line where the stem used to be.
- Place about ¼ cup of mash in the bottom part of the leaf, leaving about 1 inch border, and roll it like you would a burrito… fold bottom edge of collard green over filling, fold in sides and roll away from you, creating as tight roll as possible. Do this until you run out of leaves and/or filling mash.
At this point… you can save them to steam later or you can steam right away. For the Hawaiian Festival, we rolled them the night before and steamed them the morning of our lunch festival.
- Set up a steamer pot with boiling water. Transfer rolls to a steamer basket, cover pot and steam for 2-3 minutes. Increase steaming time to 5 minutes if you made these in advance and are coming cold out of the fridge. Transfer to serving platter carefully with tongs.
The collard greens are hearty, but are already tender enough that they cut easily. The filling is sweet and savory. This is great new way to enjoy cooked greens that still look vibrant green.