Collard Green-and-Rice Fritters with Green Pesto

Serve these fritters with a crisp white wine for a memorable appetizer.

Collard Green-and-Rice Fritters with Green Pesto
Photo: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

This super-Southern appetizer combines two of our all-time favorite ingredients—collard greens and pecans—into one stand-out dish. We use collard greens two ways in this recipe, incorporating them into both the fritters and the pesto.

These are not your Nana's fritters. Made from a base of collard greens and rice, the fritters come together with eggs, shallot, corn starch, and Parmesan, combining plenty of earthy, nutty flavors. The rice helps to bind the fritters; any kind of pre-cooked, long-grain rice will do, whether it's microwaved or leftover from last night's dinner. Don't be afraid to get a little messy: Mixing the rice-and-collards mixture with your hands helps to evenly incorporate all of the ingredients and break down the rice and collards. When frying, an ice cream scoop works well to portion out even quantities; it's also helpful when dropping the fritters into the hot oil, as it tends to splatter a bit. The resulting fritters are very crisp, light and—unlike some potato-based fritters—not at all oily.

The parsley-pecan dipping sauce is sweetened with a touch of honey, balancing out the natural bitterness of the parsley and collards. It wouldn't be a pesto without the addition of Parmesan, which brings a hit of salt and umami to this unique sauce. We'd eat this pesto on anything—it'd be great spooned over spaghetti or spread on toasted bread.

To make the fritters in advance, portion them out on a sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap. Then, when you're ready to serve, fry them right up. These fritters make an excellent appetizer or side; serve them alongside the parsley-pecan dipping sauce with a crisp white wine. It's a memorable, unexpected dish that guests will rave about.


  • 6 cups coarsely chopped stemmed collard greens (from 1 [1-lb.] bunch)

  • 1 (8.8-oz.) pkg. precooked microwavable long-grain white rice

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot (from 1 large shallot)

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¾ cup), divided

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • Canola oil, for frying

  • cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans

  • 1 medium garlic clove

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon honey


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Add chopped stemmed collards. Cook, stirring often, until bright green and wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander; then rinse under cold water. Squeeze collards firmly over sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Reserve half of collards (about 1 cup) for making pesto.

  2. Place rice and remaining half of collards in a large bowl. Mix well using your hands, breaking up grains of rice. Stir in eggs, shallot, cornstarch, pepper, ½ cup of the cheese, and ½ teaspoon of the salt until thoroughly blended.

  3. Pour canola oil to a depth of ¼ inch in a large, deep cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in 2 batches, carefully scoop 4 packed ¼ cupfuls of rice mixture into hot oil (oil will splatter). Press fritters with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cook until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, and cover fritters to keep warm. Repeat process with remaining rice mixture (you do not need to wipe skillet clean or add more oil).

  4. Pulse together parsley, pecans, garlic, and reserved 1 cup collards in a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Add olive oil, honey, and remaining ¼ cup cheese and ½ teaspoon salt, and process until well blended, about 1 minute. Spoon pesto into a small serving bowl, and serve alongside fritters.

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