10 March 2011

recipe: steamed swiss chard rolls stuffed with heirloom grain, bean, and vegetable filling with a zaatar-tahini sauce

In the mood to something a little different, here's something I whipped up for myself for brunch the other day (inspired, in part, by photos from Anita's retreat). I'm often recommending things like this dish, but don't often make it-- maybe because it's not super fast and requires just a little forward thinking. But I had done some cooking the night before and had some cooked beans (chickpeas and an heirloom mix) and cooked grain mixture (brown rice, amaranth, and millet), and for once, I hadn't chopped up my bunch of swiss chard, so I actually had whole leaves available. And I had time. 

Keeping things frugal lately, and still wanting something brunch-worthy, I passed up my roommate's offer to make me some spinach and eggs, and got down to business and ended up with Steamed Swiss Chard Rolls stuffed with an Heirloom Grain, Bean, and Vegetable filling with a Zaatar-Tahini Sauce and Kalamata Olives. And a "salad" of chopped almonds and dried apricots.

Mixed Grain and Bean Filling
This would also make a great side dish warm or cold.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup cooked brown rice or other grain
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas or other beans
1/2 cup small diced zucchini
handful of sliced swiss chard stems
1/4 teaspoon each of coriander and cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium sized pan over medium high heat. Add in all remaining ingredients and stir to combine and distribute. Continue stirring occasionally until chard stems and zucchini are soft, adding a splash of water if the pan gets dry, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Note: Other good add-ins would be a 1/4 cup raisins or currants and/or 1/4 cup chopped almonds.

Swiss Chard Rolls: Step by Step Instructions

Wash two large swiss chard leaves and remove the bottom parts of the stem (slice up to use in the grain filling). Place one leaf smooth side down on a cutting board or clean counter and put 1/2-3/4 cup of the grain filling on the bottom (broader) part of the leaf.

Like a burrito, pull the bottom of the leaf over the filling, keeping it relatively tight. Then, roll up the two sides to make a snug package. Roll the leaves up the remainder of the way. Insert a toothpick or small skewer if the leaves don't want to stay shut. 

Repeat with the other leaf. Place the rolls in a steamer in a pot filled about 2" deep with water. Steam for 10-15 minutes. The leaves will be very tender and will tear easily at this point. Remove the steamer from the pot and slide the rolls onto a plate, with the help of a spatula.

Serve topped with Zaatar-Tahini Sauce and a few chopped olives.

Zaatar-Tahini Sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon or more of water
1 teaspoon zaatar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Adjust for consistency by adding a little more lemon or water and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

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