I recall my mom having some leftover filling and she would use romaine lettuce leaves or swiss chard (which is called seskoula in Greek).
The great thing about Swiss Chard dolmades is that you can make them with fresh chard (when in season), they are affordable and easier to roll than smaller grape leaves.
You can expect the swiss chard to be about the size of cabbage rolls, ideal for a main course. In this recipe, I complementing the dolmades with a traditional Avgolemono sauce but they are very good with a tomato based sauce as well!
Swiss Chard Dolmades
(makes about 30)
3-4 bunches of Swiss Chard (you want about 30 stalks), stalks removed
1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 teaspoons of sea salt
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons of corn starch + 2 tablespoons. of water
Juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
- Place your chard in a sink, fill with water and repeat two to three times to remove any grit. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Pour enough boiling water to cover the leaves. Allow the leaves to soften in the hot water for approx. 30 seconds or until softened.
- Transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Repeat with the remaining bunches of swiss chard. Drain well and pat-dry with tea towels. Cut off the stems from the bottom of the leaves.
- Bring a large saucepan to medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Simmer to soften the onions for about 10 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and add your tomato puree, ground beef, ground pork, rice, parsley, dill, salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
- Place some spare lettuce or grape leaves on the bottom of your roasting pan (protects the bottom from burning).
- Take a swiss chard leaf (rib side facing down) and place a 2 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the two ends of the leaf inwards and roll it up into a long narrow shape. (do not roll too tightly as the rice will expand and may break your leaves) and place seam side down in a round or rectangular deep roasting pan. Repeat with remaining swiss chard and arrange snugly in your baking vessel.
- Place some more loose leaves over the stuffed chard and you may even place a heavy plate on top to prevent them from breaking open.
- Add 3 to 4 cups of low sodium chicken (or vegetable) hot stock into the roasting pan (enough liquid to cover the chard by 1 inch), cover with the lid and place into a pre-heated 350F oven (lower rack) for 70-90 minutes.
- For Avgolemono sauce, into a bowl, mix your flour and water until dissolved. Now add your lemon juice and whisk in. Now add your eggs into the lemon mixture and whisk until frothy.
- Carefully drain the hot liquid from the cooked swiss chard into a bowl, take a ladle of your stock (hot) and slowly (SLOWLY) pour into the bowl with your egg/lemon mixture. Add 2 more ladles of stock (slowly) while whisking. Adjust seasoning and add salt to taste.
- Pour the Avgolemono Sauce over all the swiss chard dolmades and holding on to the handles of the roasting pan, gently shake it back & forth to thoroughly blend the Avgolemono Sauce with the remaining stock in the dolmades. Serve warm.
Be Pragmatic: Use your own preferred ground meat, I like a beef/pork mix.
About those leftover swiss chard stems: Make a nice gratin topped with some bread crumbs and your favourite grated cheese.
© 2021, Peter Minaki. All rights reserved.
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