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Swiss chard stuffed with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat, rice and herbs; Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat, rice and herbs; Kis Sarmasi

Any sight of large leaves gets me excited with the prospect of stuffing them. I grew up with my mother’s delicious stuffed vine leaves, yaprak sarma  and stuffed cabbage leaves, lahana sarmasi ,one of our favorite meals.  As a family affair, my father would prepare the leaves and mother and whoever around the table would o the stuffing. And of course, everyone would be very keen to do a “quality check” after cooking, just to make sure they’re cooked 🙂 Happy days.

Turkish people are very fond of stuffed vegetables or dolmas as we call in Turkish. Stuffed tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplants are the year round favorites. Cabbage leaves are stuffed in winter and vine leaves and zucchini flowers herald a fresh option in spring time. The success of any great dolma, which literally means “stuffed”, relies heavily on getting the stuffing right. With a dollop of yoghurt or a slice of lemon aside, they are utterly delicious. For a vegetarian option, try this stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice and herb filling; Zeytinyagli sarma; they are simply irresistible, with a wedge of lemon aside.

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice in hot pepper sauce - delicious

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice in hot pepper sauce

I got some wonderful leafy winter greens, (similar to Swiss chard, though with a slimmer stem) from my local market. Like cabbage leaves, they need to soften up first so that they can be stuffed. With a southern Turkish addition of  Turkish hot pepper paste sauce, biber salcasi (or a tomato based sauce) and garlic yoghurt aside, they were so delicious. You can use cabbage leaves or Swiss card here too. Please don’t worry about  making the perfect roll; as long as they’re not over filled, they stay intact and taste delicious. I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls, or sarmas, as much as we did.

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi
 
Serves: 4 -6
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard
  • For the filling:
  • 225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, grated
  • 110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)
  • 45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking
  • Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 60ml/ 4 tbsp. water
  • Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)
  • Garlic yoghurt sauce:
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped
  • 8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. dried mint (optional)
Instructions
  1. Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.
  2. Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).
  3. Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water
  4. Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.
  5. Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.
  6. Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.
  7. Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.
  8. Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.
  9. Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.
  10. Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).
  11. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. Once it starts to bubble, cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.
  12. While the rolls (sarma,as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.
  13. For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4-5 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.
  14. Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.
Serves 4 -6

Preparation time: 40-45 minutes                    Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard

For the filling:

225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)

2 small or 1 large onion, grated

110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)

45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking

Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:

15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

60ml/ 4 tbsp. water

Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)

Garlic yoghurt sauce:

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped

8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt

Salt to taste

½ tsp. dried mint (optional)

 

Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.

Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.

Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).

Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water

Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water

Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.

Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.

Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.

Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. stuffing.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. stuffing.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.

fold in the sides of the leaf

fold in the sides of the leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.

Then roll into a tight log.

Then roll into a tight log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.

Place the stuffed leaves seam side down in a wide, deep pan.

Place the stuffed leaves seam side down in a wide, deep pan.

Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place the pan over a medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact). Cover and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.

Place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).

Place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).

While the rolls (sarma, as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.

For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.

Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.

Stuffed winter leaves with ground meat and aromatic rice; Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter leaves with ground meat and aromatic rice; Kis Sarmasi

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Note: The stems or any broken leaves and a bit of left over filling can turn into a delicious meal. Simply chop the leaves and stems and sauté with some olive oil and garlic, adding the filling if any left over. You can add a few tomatoes in it or crack an egg; it would make a delicious bite.

 

 

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16 Responses to Swiss chard stuffed with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi

  1. seniordogsabroad January 21, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Özlem, Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve been wanting to try to stuff chard but needed sufficient motivation and this will do it. BTW, at the Heirloom cafe close to our house, they stuff karalahana (kale) and it’s awesome. Take care and keep these great recipes coming!

    • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Merhaba, you are very welcome. Love stuffed chard – all you need to do is to remove the bulky stem and wilt them a little – they are delicious. Stuffed karalahana at Heirloom cafe sounds wonderful, maybe we may meet up there in Feb ? : ) Thank you so much for your kind words, cok selamlar, Ozlem

  2. Peri January 21, 2014 at 4:36 am #

    Love dolmas, Ozlem. And now I have a step by step guide to making them at home! The stuffing sounds so moist and delicious…I like using turkey mince. Great recipe. Xx Peri.

    • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      Thank you Peri, I have a soft spot for dolmas too : ) it’s very satisfying to make your own – ground turkey works well, I also like the vegetarian option with lots of grated onions, parsley, dried mint, rice and olive oil. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Ozlem xx

  3. BacktoBodrum January 23, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    I’m always getting my sarma and dolma mixed up and getting told off for using the wrong word.

    • Ozlem Warren January 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

      I know what you mean; sarma is used for stuffed leaves, and dolma is for stuffed veg like tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, where you need to scoop up the flesh : )

  4. Ange February 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Hi! Thanks for the great recipe. I live in Germany where it’s hard to get grape vine leaves. (I’m sure you can in Berlin where there are many turkish supermarkets.. but sadly I don’t live there.) There are plenty of chard leaves everywhere though. I can’t believe I never thought about stuffing them like you have done here. Thanks again, and I’ll be following your great blog regularly. Cheers!

    • Ozlem Warren February 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Dear Ange, thank you very much for your kind note; I really get excited seeing big leaves, they’re wonderful when stuffed. hope you enjoy the recipe. Cabbage leaves also work very well in stuffing. Afiyet olsun 🙂

  5. Sherry May 5, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Merhaba Özlem! We have 3 grapevines in our yard here in Bursa and I would love to try my hand at yaprak sarma, one of my very favorites. What are the rules for collecting your own leaves….age, size, how to treat them after collecting? We have contact with mostly younger Turkish women (our “kids” we call them) who still have not learned/mastered the art from their mothers, so I have not found a master here, yet, who can teach me hands on. Any suggestions/help you can offer will be great. Thanking you in advance.

    • Ozlem Warren May 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      Merhaba Sherry, many thanks for stopping by! How wonderful that you have your own grapevines, enjoy them. Late spring – May and June are usually the best months for picking the leaves – look out for the light green, tender leaves with no holes for stuffing. The ones with holes would be perfect to roll the bulgur wheat salad, kisir in it – that’s what my grand mother would do and it really is delicious. Here is a good link as to how to make the most of the fresh grapevine leaves, storage and treating, hope you enjoy making yaprak sarma! http://greekfood.about.com/od/ingredientpreptechniques/a/abelofylla.htm Selamlar, Ozlem

  6. Julie August 21, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    If using brown basmati rice which usually takes longer to cook, how should I adjust recipe?

    • Ozlem Warren August 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

      Merhaba Julie, many thanks for your note. The recipe calls for cooking 40 minutes; if using brown basmati rice, I would allow another 15 – 20 minutes more. Hope you enjoy it, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  7. Lorrie December 13, 2016 at 5:33 am #

    Are these winter greens the same as what we call collard greens in the US?
    This looks really nice- hope you don’t mind a comment on an older post. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren December 13, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

      Hi Lorrie, indeed very similar and collard greens should work well, hope you enjoy it : ) best wishes, Ozlem

  8. Penny October 15, 2018 at 12:26 am #

    I’m a little confused about the rice. Is it raw or cooked? Is the amount 1/2 cup cooked or raw?

    Thanks! Can’t wait to try this recipe with my swiss chard. First year growing it and I ended up with tons. Also use it in stampot, a dutch dish that uses kale usually.

    • Ozlem Warren October 15, 2018 at 9:44 am #

      Merhaba dear Penny, thank you for your note – how nice you grow your own Swiss chard, I love it. The rice here is raw/uncooked prior stuffing; it is a delicious way to enjoy swiss chard – Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

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