The signs of Fall are peeking around every corner. It’s still pretty darn hot in the Northeast during the day, but our nights are getting cooler. Farmers market ingredients have started to shift slightly with leafy greens and root vegetables back in full force, due to the cooler night temps. Along with them apples are popping up and a very cool plum, called Italian prune plums. I found them this weekend on the Migliorelli Farm table. They are slightly larger than an egg and have a royal purple skin. Because they’re firmer than other plums, and slightly less juicy, they keep their shape in baking, so perfect for cakes and pies.
Baking? Me? You know better than that! I decided to make them into something slightly savory. In the end, the flavor, and color, was amazing. Italian prune plums have a golden yellow flesh which turns a stunning jewel-like fuchsia when cooked. Interesting note: most plums are clingstone, meaning the pit “clings” to the flesh, making it difficult to remove. Italian prune plums, however, are freestone, making it, well, you can guess: easy to “free” the pit.
Italian prune plums are very seasonal, so now is the time to find them. Mainly you will see them at the farmers market, but specialty grocers will have them. Look for plums with a medium firm feel, free from soft dark spots. They will ripen a little on the kitchen counter, so you don’t want them to be too soft, unless you are eating them right away. They will also have what looks like a light coating of chalk dust. That’s ok, meaning they are pretty close from harvest. Store them on the counter, but if they start to get really ripe either eat them or place in your fruit bin of the fridge.
Back to my idea: with a bunch of collard greens I decided to try out an idea for a savory roll using my Italian prune plums and quinoa. You can easily substitute chard leaves for this as well, but the collard leaves held up beautifully.
Keeping it savory along with my filling I used shallots. The ones I have are from Hilltop Hanover Farm. They grow a really pretty round shallot. The easiest way to peel them, or any onion for that matter, is to soak them a little in warm water.
From there, the papery skin will peel right off.
I also decided to use juniper berries. This is an optional spice, but will give the filling a lovely background note. If you can find them I highly suggest using them.
This filling will give you enough for 8 medium to large leaves. Don’t fret if you have leftovers. I simply added them to my arugula and made a salad. I only wish I had a little goat cheese to top it off.
Enjoy the Italian prune plum now. It is very seasonal, and will be with us for just the Fall.
Italian Prune Plum and Quinoa Filled Collard Rolls
Makes about 4 – 6 servings
1/2 cup dry quinoa, 2 cups cooked
6-8 collard leaves, chard leaves will work too, but blanch them for just 1 minute
3/4 cup shallot, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1 fat garlic clove, very thinly sliced
Avocado, grapeseed or canola oil
Ground black pepper
2 cups Italian prune plums, quartered, sliced 1/4″, about 4 large ones
8 juniper berries, crushed, optional
2 tablespoons of loosely packed fresh parsley
1. Cook the quinoa according the package instructions. Once done drain and set in a mesh colander to cool.
2. Blanch the collard leaves for 2 minutes in boiling salted water. Remove and shock in an ice bath. Drain and set aside.
3. In a medium saute pan cook the shallot and garlic in 2 tablespoons of flavorless oil over medium heat, season with salt and pepper, for 3-5 minutes. Add the plums and juniper berries and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Once the plums are soft and just start to slightly fall apart turn off the heat and add the zest from the whole orange. Then cut in half, using the juice and bits from one half. Mix in the cooked quinoa and parsley. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
4. Lay your collard leaf flat on a cutting board and carefully remove the tough stem, 3/4 of the way up. Overlap the two sides slightly and place 3-4 tablespoons of filling near the end of the roll. Fold the sides in and roll it up. Repeat for all the leaves.
5. Juice the remaining half of the orange and make a quick vinaigrette using the oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle the over the rolls just before serving.
6. You can enjoy the rolls at room temperature, or slightly warmed. Take care to not heat them too much. The pretty vibrant green with fade quickly.