Fonio Stuffed Collards with Pepper Sambal and Sauce Moyo

For this recipe, Marcus Samuelsson stuffs collards with onions, herbs, and fonio, a tiny protein-rich grain that has been grown and eaten for thousands of years in West Africa. He seasons his fonio with dawadawa powder, an umami-rich seasoning made from fermented locust beans. Samuelsson's version of sambal is made with roasted red peppers and is used as a sauce to bake with the collards. To finish it off, you need just a little bit of the spicy sauce moyo on top of each roll.

Fonio-Stuffed Collards with Pepper Sambal and Sauce Moyo
Photo: Angie Mosier
Active Time:
2 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
20 rolls


For the sauce moyo

  • 1 mango (about 8 ounces), pitted, peeled, and diced

  • 1 small red onion (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or other neutral oil

  • 1 teaspoon ground Selim pepper

  • 1 Scotch bonnet (or habanero) chile, stemmed and chopped

  • Kosher salt to taste

For the roasted red pepper sambal

  • 2 red bell peppers (about 8 ounces each)

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small red onion (about 5 ounces), quartered

  • 2 plum tomatoes (about 7 ounces), halved and seeded

  • 1 habanero chile, stemmed

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

  • ¼ cup finely chopped lemongrass (about 2 stalks; tough outer layer removed, bottom 4 inches only)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoons tamarind paste

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fonio-stuffed collards

  • ½ cup fonio

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon red palm oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 small red onion (about 5 ounces), diced (about 1 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dawadawa powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried shrimp powder (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

  • Grated zest of 1 lime, about 1 teaspoon, plus 2 tablespoons juice

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • ¾ cup chicken stock

  • 1 bunch collard greens (about 20 leaves)


Make the sauce moyo:

  1. In a medium bowl, toss mango, onion, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, oil, selim, and chile together until evenly mixed; season with salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving. Store sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Make the roasted red pepper sambal:

  1. Preheat oven broiler to high. Toss red peppers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast in oven, rotating frequently, until peppers are just softened, blistered, and blackened in spots, about 15 minutes. Remove peppers from oven and let cool slightly. When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove seeds and stem and roughly chop.

  2. Place peppers, onion, tomatoes, and habanero chile in a food processor and pulse into a coarsely chopped puree. Set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. When oil shimmers, add garlic, ginger, and lemongrass and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cumin and paprika and continue to cook for about 30 seconds. Add pepper puree and bring to a simmer. Allow sauce to simmer on low until the liquid is slightly reduced, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add tamarind paste and mash to combine. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as desired and let cool. Sauce will keep up to 1 month when stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Make the fonio-stuffed collards:

  1. Place fonio in a small bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl around to allow any chaff to float to the top. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer and repeat until water is clear, once or twice.

  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add fonio and stir. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, until water is absorbed and grains are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Spread fonio on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool.

  3. Heat palm oil in a medium sauté pan set over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and dawadawa powder and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add dried shrimp powder, if using. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Stir in mint, cilantro, lime zest, and juice.

  4. Transfer fonio to a large mixing bowl, add onion mixture, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

  5. Place 1 cup of the sambal and the chicken stock in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

  6. Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Trim collard stalks leaving a 1/2-inch near leaf. Shave down the middle vein of each collard leaf to level it with the leaf and to make it pliable enough to bend without breaking. Working with about 3 leaves at a time, add to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until collards turn dark green, about 30 seconds. Transfer collards immediately to ice bath and repeat process until all leaves have been blanched. Drain collards.

  7. To stuff collards, spread a leaf on a board or work surface with the vein side down. Brush leaf lightly with red palm oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Patch any tears or rips with pieces from extra leaves. Place 2 tablespoons of the fonio stuffing in the center of the leaf and press down on the filling to flatten. Roll leaf tightly around filling, starting from the stem end and folding in the left and right sides of the leaf to enclose the filling completely. You should end up with approximately a 1 1/2 -inch-thick roll, depending on the size of each leaf. Repeat stuffing and rolling process until all collard leaves have been used.

  8. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread half of the sambal mixture over the bottom of a 2-quart casserole or baking dish and lay collard rolls side by side over sauce; it's okay to stack some rolls over the top of the bottom layer if they don't all fit in a single layer.

  9. Cover collard rolls with remaining sambal sauce and cover dish with foil. Bake until the rolls are heated through and sauce is bubbling, about 45 minutes.

  10. Uncover dish and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve the stewed collard rolls hot topped with sauce moyo.


Excerpted from THE RISE by Marcus Samuelsson with Osayi Endolyn. Recipes with Yewande Komolafe and Tamie Cook. Copyright © 2020 by Marcus Samuelsson. Photographs by Angie Mosier. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Related Articles