I love the Mediterranean. The people, the history, the feta, the baklava.... I could eat that stuff till I exploded. I even like couscous and falafel. Debt problems or no, the eastern Mediterranean countries seem to have a lot going for them.
The only thing I can't stand? Dolmas.
Those luke-warm stuffed grape leaves. They taste like a sour gross mess. I hate them!
Well, I thought I did. But apparently there are some good ones out there. Turns out, I actually just don't like grape leaves (sorry Greece!). Far too tough and sour. Yuck.
The Turks have one thing unarguably right - use chard instead. Much tastier!!
Start off with the chard - preferably the rainbow stuff. It's pretty.
Cut the hard stems off and discard (or use for something else). Using tongs, push each leaf down in a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds.
Then dunk it straight into a bowl of ice water (or cold water, when the ice melts).
When you've got all those done, move on to the filling.
Onions and garlic start things off.
Sautee them in a large pan for awhile, until they smell good. Then toss in 2 1/2 cups of cooked white rice.
Transfer all that to a bowl. Add the ground beef and spices. And a bit of the chard water if it looks a bit dry.
Mix everything up with your hands. This is the fun part! Squish!!
Take a chard leaf and lay it out on your cutting board. Slice the thick rib out of the center.
Each half of the large leaves make one dolma. For smaller leaves, overlap the halves to make one roll.
Place a good, heavy spoonful about 1/3 from the bottom of the leaf.
Fold the bottom up, and tuck in the ends.
Roll it all up....
Place them into the large pan you sauteed up the onions in.
Once they are all in the pan, add water and a few pieces of butter.
Cover with a heavy plate, and a lid if you have one that big. (Aluminum foil works if you don't)
Let them cook for 20-25 minutes. Serve with roasted cauliflower and yogurt sauce.
Turkish Stuffed Chard
Adapted from Mommiez's Blog
15-20 chard leaves
1 lb ground beef (80/20)
2 1/2 c. (ish) cooked rice
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp Zaatar spice
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp salt
Rinse your chard well. Cut off any excess stems. Leaf by leaf, dip in a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water.
Once all the chard is boiled, begin making the filling.
In a large skillet, sautee the diced onion and garlic for 3-5 minutes, until transparent. Add in the cooked rice. If you are using rice that was previously refrigerated (and thus dried out) add a 1/2 c. of the boiling water from the chard.
Transfer the rice mixture into a large bowl. Add the ground beef and the spices. Mix well.
Take a chard leaf, and place it on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, remove the center rib.
Each half of the large leaves can be used for one dolma. If the leaf is small, overlap the halves to form one dolma.
Place a heavy spoonful of the meat mixture about 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the leaf half. Fold the bottom over the spoonful. Fold the edges in, and roll it up.
Gently transfer the rolled chard leaves to the large skillet. Fill the skillet with water, to halfway up the chard. Put a few pats of butter around the skillet. Place a heavy plate on the top of the rolls and press down. Cover the skillet and cook on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes.