Vegetarian Swiss Chard Rolls

I am so glad that people started to pay attention to their food and where it is coming from.  It excites me to hear people getting excited about the "Farm to Table Movement."  Of course this great movement is not new.  Before industries entered the food business all the dishes were farm to table.My grandfather's house sat on top of a hill in a Mediterranean village in Syria.  All of the land around it was terraced.  There were many figs trees and countless grape vines growing on the stone hedges and in between my grandfather's plants. His favorite crops included swiss chards, potatoes, parsley, tomatoes, eggplants and zucchinis.  My grandfather would take his daily, early walk between his crops and pick couple of that, few of another, and some of that and would then walk up to the house. Whatever he had in his hand made it to the dinner plate.  My grandparents had 10 kids, so my grandmother did not believe in side dishes. She made stews and pilafs.  The stuffing she used transformed the vegetables from typical, simple side dishes to a filling main dish.  The stuffing was always bulgur with beans and herbs. Rice was an expensive grain so it was used only on special occasions. Bulgur on the other hand was available and something they could store for a year in a special, cool mud room-- the original pantry.IMG_2555I just got my first Farmer's market Swiss chard for this year and you and I will be making stuffed Swiss chard rolls. These rolls will be stuffed with bulgur stuffing just the way my grandmother made it.To make the stuffing: Soak coarse bulgur #3 in water for 30 minutes.  Squeeze any extra water and then, mix with diced tomato, cooked garbanzo beans, chopped onion, mint and salt.IMG_2545To get the Swiss chard ready for rolling:  Cut the stem off and set aside to use in a soup or pilaf. Bring water to boil, drop the leaves, bring back to a boil  and blanch the Swiss chard leaves for one minute.  This steps soften the leaves and make it easier to roll.  Remove from the water and allow the leaves to cool.IMG_2548To stuff the leaves: If the Swiss chard leaves are large cut the center or main stalk and set aside. It the leave is small roll the whole leave.  Place the blanched Swiss chard leave on flat surface, spoon about large tablespoon of the stuffing in the center and roll like a cigar.IMG_2549Line the bottom of medium sized cooking pot with slices of potatoes and onions. Arrange the stuffed rolls tightly over the potato slices.  Keep rolling and arranging the stuffed leaves tightly in the pot until you have about 3 layers.  Place a small flat dish over the stuffed rolls, place heavy small pot over the plate --this will keep the rolls tight-- I use coffee kettle that I fill with water.  Add water to about 2 inches over the plate.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and remove the heavy weight.  Mix the seasoning with garlic and lemon, gently and with the help of mitten remove the china plate  and pour over the rolls.   Allow the rolls to rest for 15 minutes before serving.IMG_2551 

Vegetarian Swiss Chard Rolls
Recipe Type: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Author: Sanaa
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This dish will transfer Swiss chard to amazing healthy main dish
  • 2 pounds fresh Swiss chard
  • 3 cups coarse bulgur
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. To make the stuffing: Soak the bulgur in water for 30 minutes. Squeeze excess water and toss with the onion, tomato, garbanzo beans, half of the chopped mint, lemon zest, olive oil, pepper and salt.
  2. Cut the stem just to edge of the of leaves. Bring lightly salted water to a boil. Drop the Swiss chard leaves, bring back to a boil and blanch for one minutes. Remove from the water, drain and allow the leaves to cool.
  3. Place each leave on flat surface, spoon large tablespoon of the stuffing in the center of the leaves and roll like a cigar.
  4. Line the bottom of heavy cooking pot with slices of raw potatoes and onions. Arrange the stuffed Swiss chard rolls tightly over the potato and onion slices. Repeat until you have about 3 layers of the stuffed rolls.
  5. Place flat china plate over the rolls. Place something slightly heavy over the plate --this will hold the plate firm over the stuffed rolls so the stuffing does not comes loose --. I use coffee kettle that is filled with water. Pour water over the rolls to comes about 2 inches over the plate.
  6. Bring the water to boil. After the water boil, turn the heat down and cook on medium -low heat for 25 minutes.
  7. Mix the mashed garlic with lemon juice, little salt and the rest of the minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the weight and gently remove the china plate --use mitten for safety--. Pour the garlic mixture over the the cooked rolls. Cover and allow the rolls to rest for 20 minutes before serving.