This dolma recipe is a different take on the more traditional dolma made with vine leaves. Both versions are great, but this version is less briny. I love Swiss chard, as it’s delicious and super healthy.
Dolma is a popular dish throughout the Middle-East. At home, we make different kinds of dolmas. As an appetizer, we make vegetarian versions with rice and herbs. As a main dish, we stuff all kinds of vegetables with meat and rice. Popular vegetables to stuff are zucchinis, mini eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and my favorite, onions.
My mother-in-law makes the most delicious vegetarian stuffed peppers with pine nuts and herbs. I’ll post her recipe soon!
This Swiss chard recipe requires about an hour of prep-time. If you have a partner that can help, you can roll the dolmas twice as fast! Cooking time takes about an hour.
Here is what you’ll need:
For the dolma:
- 5 bunches Swiss chard, central stems removed
- 1 lb. ground beef (preferably at least 15% fat)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 14-15 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 tbsp. olive-oil
- 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (crushed red pepper)
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. salt and a few rounds of black pepper
Sauce for pouring over the dolma in the pot:
- 2 cups water
- 2 oz. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt and pinch of black pepper
Here’s how to put it all together:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, remove the stems of the Swiss chard (see picture below). Cook the chard for only a minute, so it’s slightly wilted and easy to roll without breaking. Be careful how you handle the leaves, as they’ll tear easily. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, Use your hands to mix the ground beef, basmati rice, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, olive-oil, Aleppo pepper, allspice, and salt and pepper.
Here is the tricky part. Lay a chard leaf flat and overlap where the stems were removed so the meat filling will not leak through. Spoon one heaped tablespoon of the filling onto the lower center of each leaf. Fold over the sides and roll the bottom over. Tuck the leaf in to keep the dolma tight and firm. Continue to roll until it looks like a cigar! Now, do this until you run out of meat filling. Torn leaves can be put with other torn leaves and shaped into dolmas as well.
In a deep, heavy pot, place each dolma seam-side down in a tight circular pattern until the bottom of the pot is covered. There should be no space between the dolmas. Then, start another layer with the same pattern.
In a bowl, mix together 2 oz. of tomato paste, 2 cups water, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and salt and pour over the dolma.
Cover the dolma in the pot by placing an old flat ceramic plate upside down over it. Heat the dolma over high-heat and cover. Once the liquid comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 1 hour.
Transfer the dolmas to serving platter carefully (they tear easily) and enjoy!