Writing about art, food and changes

Theresa Rice

Theresa Rice
North Georgia Mountains, Georgia, United States
August 24
I write. I paint. I teach. I grow things. I cook. I eat. Louisiana-born and Southern bred, I love people wise enough to be optimistic and generous enough to bring their gifts to the table.


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FEBRUARY 28, 2011 7:17AM

Green(s) Stuff(ed)

Rate: 21 Flag

  Spring font with flower resize

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.  ~Mark Twain

 Spring is playing peekaboo with me here in North Georgia. It was 72 degrees today at the tail end of February. Yes I said SEVENTY-TWO DEGREES. Barely two weeks ago we were shaking in our shoes with temperatures below freezing. I hardly know if I'm coming or going. I'm lethargic and energetic by turns. Spring takes me that way sometimes.

American Robin resizeTennyson says "In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," but my cooking fancy has turned to greens. It's still early for the delicate greenery, but hardy collards and kale are available. I have choices to make. Do I want cozy comfort food or a lighter chilled dish? What's going on with the weather? Will Winter return or will Spring prevail? The robins have not shown themselves, but I counted four daffodils up today, close by the crocuses. Who can tell from one minute to the next?

One thing I do know. I love stuffed. Notice I did not specify stuffed what. There’s something about putting asingle daff delicious thing inside another delicious thing that speaks to me on a soul level. Pot stickers or spring rolls, stuffed peppers or pirogi, eggplants or onion shells, empanadas or enchiladas, cannoli or calzone—show me an ethnic stuffed dish and I am in love. From apple dumplings to stuffed zucchini, I can haz it all.  

Several stuffed pre-creations inhabit the virtual cuisine laboratory inside my Spring-addled head. A collard, shrimp, barley and Creole sauce kind of thing is at the top of the pile. Or maybe a chilled salad wrapped in blanched collard leaves. I am flirting with a three-way dalliance between Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Big Easy. Hmmm.

IMG_1970 crop resize2First things first. I headed to the garden to see how our valiant collards were doing. It’s been a long cold lonely winter for the poor fellows. They have persevered through three snows this year when we usually don’t even get one. The little darlings were up and vigorous but I didn't have the heart to pick them yet. They were tender, yes, but too teensy to be interrupted in their growth. 

Undaunted I headed to market. Only a few weeks ago bins of leathery leaved collards were on sale for traditional New Year’s fare. This trip I only found half-sized bunches, but they were bigger than the ones in the garden. I smiled as I laid the largest bundle into my basket and headed for the checkout. These were Spring collards—tender, flavorful and bursting with nutrition. And soon they would be stuffed with shrimp and barley. Woohoo! But I was still blowing as hot and cold as the weather—which way to go? Eventually I said "heck with it" and decided to do both.


 Chilled Shrimp and Barley Salad in Collard Wraps


Shrimp and Collard Creole Sarma


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And now for something completely different. The recipes begin alike and then branch off to hot or cold. I wanted to make this as easy on myself so I figured I'd take the whole business to a certain point, then divide to finish with flavors and techniques to give one chilled appetizer and one piping hot entree. Take your pick. Follow the first set of directions for either preparation and then proceed with whichever dish you choose.


 ξ ξ ξ





A touch of oil in the cooking water adds flavor and pliability to the leaves. 

  • 1 bunch collard greens, washed and stems trimmed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • bowl of ice water

IMG_1985 resizeBring water, oil and salt to a boil in a dutch oven. Add the greens, cover and steam for 3-5 minutes. Drain the greens and then plunge into the ice water bath. Leave them for 3-5 minutes, the same amount of time they steamed. Remove from water and pat dry. 



IMG_1994 resize

Select about 8 or 10 of the best leaves, trim out tough stems and set aside. 








NOTE: This recipe uses regular pearl barley. If you use instant barley, check package directions for cooking time and instructions, but substitute chicken stock for water and add lemon quarter, olive oil and bay leaf. 

  • 1 cup barley
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 fresh lemon, skin washed before cutting
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
IMG_1993 resizeBring chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, butter, lemon quarter, bay leaf and salt. Pour in barley and return to a boil. Stir well with a fork, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain into a colendar and rinse briefly under cold water. Remove bay leaf and lemon quarter. Remove to a bowl and toss in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add pesto, cover and refrigerate until needed.

ξ ξ ξ



Here's where you proceed to the recipe of your choice. Continue from here if you've decided on a light and cool appetizer:

Chilled Shrimp and Barley Salad in Collard Wraps

IMG_2022 resize

Collards, shrimp and barley all have the advantage of being superb either hot or cold. They blend here with feta, capers, lemon and garlic into an appetizingly light first course. The shrimp marinates in the tangy dressing before being blended with barley and vegetables.  And the collards wrap it up—I'll take it!



  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pesto
  •  1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

 Place all ingredients except feta in food processor bowl and pulse until thoroughly blended. Stir in feta crumbles.



  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tony's Creole Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons oil


IMG_2011 resizeSeason shrimp with garlic and Tony's. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil. When oil shimmers add the shrimp and sauté about 3 or four minutes or until pink and opaque. Remove from pan to a bowl large enough to hold comfortably. Cool to room temperature. Pour dressing over shrimp, cover and refrigerate.



  • 2 scallions, cut on the diagonal
  • 1 medium tomato, cubed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon capers. or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

 Add all ingredients to the barley mixture. Spoon half of the shrimp and enough dressing to moisten into the barley. Assemble the stuffed leaves.



IMG_2027 resizeLay one collard leaf on a flat surface and place one portion of filling onto the leaf. Shape the filling into a cylinder about 1 inch from the edge nearest you. Leave an inch or so on either side. Roll the leaf one turn, then fold in the two sides and continue rolling. Place on plate seam side down. Cover and chill.

When ready to serve spoon the remaining shrimp over the rolls. Drizzle dressing around the plate and finish with a grating of Parmesan cheese. 


ξ ξ ξ


Continue from here if you have chosen the warmth and comfort of

 Shrimp and Collard Creole Sarma



 Sarma means something wrapped, in this case it's shrimp and barley wrapped in collard leaves—all the warm comfort of stuffed cabbage without the fuss of getting leaves loose from the cabbage. A couple of other switcheroos happen, too. Succulent shrimp replaces beef and barley steps in for the rice. It's a scrumptious way to do healthy AND happy. 



  • 1/2 pound raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut into  about evenly sized pieces
Blend shrimp pieces into the barley mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.



  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tony's Creole Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto
  • 1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

 Heat a large skillet and add oil. When oil begins to shimmer add onions, celery and bell pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes to soften, and add shredded carrots. Cook an additional minute or two.

Remove half the vegetables from the pan and add to barley filling mixture.

Add remaining ingredients except pesto and shrimp to the vegetables remaining in the skillet. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce to the barley filling. Put raw shrimp and pesto into the remainder of the sauce, then cover and set aside.



Prepare an ovenproof baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray.Count your leaves and divide the filling mixture into an equal number of portions. Lay one collard leaf on a flat surface and place one portion of filling onto the leaf. IMG_2013 resizeShape the filling into a cylinder about 1 inch from the edge nearest you. Leave an inch or so on either side.Roll the leaf one turn, then fold in the two sides and continue rolling to form a packet.

Place in cooking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the leaves and filling until you have used them up. Pack the rolls snugly together.

Spoon sauce with shrimp over all lf necessary make two or more layers, dividing the sauce between layers so you end with sauce. Shred leftover pieces of collard greens into thin strips to garnish the top. 

IMG_2031 resizeCover and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Check for doneness by piercing the rolls with a fork—the fork should meet little resistance; cut a shrimp in half to be sure it is completely opaque.

 Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. Remove from the oven when done and allow to stand covered for ten minutes before serving.


ξ ξ ξ





Tom Waits' poignantly rough voice treats these  tender lyrics with sensitivity and deep respect. "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" will gladden your heart even as it breaks.



Video courtey of YouTube
"Spring" with rose, robin, and daffodil photos
courtesy of Microsoft Images
All other text and images copyright 2010 Theresa Rice


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Is THAT all you've got to say, Miz V?
Another artful job of teasing our taste buds, Theresa! Your photos are perfect.

Wow! Another delightful ride complete with poetry, great music, gorgeous photos and the promise of spring. Delicious recipe too! R
Very creative and very cool! I'd never thought of using collards as a wrapper before. Neat how you can take basically the same very distinctive ingredients and turn them into two completely different dishes!
Eventhough it's too early in the day, I'd happily exchange my breakfast fare for this, Theresa. I was going to do rolled wine leaves, but just didnt have the time. In Turkih cuisine there are two styles of serving them. Meatless and cold in oil in the summer; and stuffed with meat and rice, served hot with yogurt. Your recipes made me nostalgic.
Wow, Theresa. Beautiful writing and photos. Delicious recipes. And the hot/cold divergence is so clever.
Ms T I so expect to see these greens on the cover of our fair site.
You made me green with envy that I was not beside your camera when you were taking them..:)
Rated with hugs
Languishing in the luscious leafy morass of Louisiana culinary lingerings. All of these look so elegant and tempting. Tastes of Creole with a Georgia flair. All of these look like dishes fit for a king.
This was very intriguing. I always thought of cabbage rolls but never collard rolls. What a great idea. Thanks. -R-
Ha! Theresa, as long as you're asking for another comment, and the email I sent to you just crashed... you've got the runaway winner in the winter greens category this week, turning our hearts to spring. (I was running to work when I read your post earlier this a.m... ymmmm, was best I could do!) Love the versatility of this recipe. I could definitely do this tonight, with leftover leaves of green from yesterday's post.
excellent - recipe, photography, music - all. no time but am leaving hungry. ;O
Boy, you can cook girl. I wish our GA farm plot wasn't just over the FL border. We have a field of greens I'd happily cut, clean, and bag for you. I'd sit in your kitchen and soak up the deliciousness of your efforts... just day dreaming.

These are too labor intensive to make for just lil ol me, and I'm not a barley lover, but I'd bet a wild rice mixture, or other grain could be substituted. As a single girl, I stick with the 5 ingredient limit - greens with salt pork and onions, some cider vinegar and hot pepper sauce - but your photos may result in some stuffing ... I've got fresh shrimp off the dock in the fridge.

Bell's gonna love this! it's right up her little pesco-vegetarian alley.
Looks pretty darn good. A tweak here or there, and I'm in.

Nice collard greens. They must take delicious fresh.
Ooooh, this is soooo exquisite! I want you to win the challenge! Go Theresa! xox
Yum yum yum. One looks like a dolmas and the other like a cabbage roll. I think I'd really love the cold one, but either sounds fabulous!
Theresa, these look scrumptious and I loved seeing your awakening garden!
Oh my Georgia on my green mind. These look and sound excellent and then some.
Hey y'all. I want to get back in the habit of responding--life's taken me in other directions the last few posts so that part hasn't been done. I very much appreciate everything each of you has to say. As always I enjoyed the writing, research, recipe development, photography and lagniappe selection enormously. It's fun to get your different perspectives. OSers are simply awesome.

Best, Theresa
Very nice! I have a package of barley I need to use. I love to use collard greens or other greens for stuffing/wraps. I wonder why no one ever did that when I was a kid? We always ate our greens as God intended -- boiled with a ham hock.
Really well put together. Everything sounds interesting and delicious. We must live in the same general area. We harvested arugula a few days back. I love its spicy flavor.