Mehshi Sille

Lebanese Stuffed Swiss Chard Leaves

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    6 to 8

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

Use the stuffing below not only for chard leaves, but also vine leaves, seeded zucchini, or bell peppers. The method of cooking is almost the same in all cases: The stuffed leaves or vegetables are immersed in water and simmered for 45 minutes, or until the stuffing is cooked. The most famous of these dishes is stuffed vine leaves, but I am offering a recipe for stuffed Swiss chard leaves instead, because fresh vine leaves are not available to most people, and preserved vine leaves, even when well soaked, are to the fresh leaves as canned peas are to fresh peas.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Cut the stems off the chard leaves and reserve. Then cut the leaves into three parts. First, make a cut perpendicular to the vein at the point where the vein thickens. You can find this point by rolling down the leaf from the top. The place on the vein where the leaf no longer rolls easily is the place to make your cut. Now cut away the vein from the lower part of the leaf. This will yield the second and third sections of trimmed leaf. Reserve the veins with the stems. Continue in this manner until you have cut all the leaves into three parts. Very small leaves can simply be deveined, i.e., divided in half.
  2. Blanch the reserved stems and veins in boiling water. Drain.
  3. Cover the bottom of a large casserole with the tomato slices. Sprinkle the blanched stems and veins on top of the tomato layer.
  4. Now stuff and roll the leaves: Lay a leaf section, smooth side down, with the cut side nearest to you. Take a tablespoon of stuffing (or more for larger leaves) and make a thin line running parallel to the edge of the leaf nearest you, about Ā½ inch inside the leaf. The line of stuffing should begin and end about Ā½ inch from the sides of the leaf. Fold the narrow lower strip of leaf over the stuffing and then roll up the leaf into a loosely packed tube (this allows for expansion of the rice as it cooks). Press the unfilled ends flat and place the stuffed leaf, cut side down, over the stems in the casserole.
  5. Continue in this manner until you have used up either the stuffing or the leaves. Cook leftover stuffing in simmering water and serve on the side. Use leftover leaves to cover the stuffed leaves in the casserole. Pour enough water over the leaves so that it just covers them. Add salt to taste.
  6. Lay a plate over the leaves to keep them stationary while they cook. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, or until the rice is soft. After 20 minutes, taste the broth and add salt if necessary.
  7. Let the stuffed leaves cool in the broth. Carefully transfer the leaves to a serving dish. Serve at room temperature. Pass some of the broth as a sauce.

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