Stuffing green leaves with ground meat, herby rice, or grains is a common practice in Turkish cuisine. Although not as popular as grape leaves, stuffed chard is a staple dish for both Black Sea region and eastern Anatolia. The two different types of stuffed chard I had had were with ground meat and cracked corn, so I was very excited when I found this recipe for stuffed chard in a book in Yasemin’s kitchen. The recipe is from Sahrap Soysal, a popular Turkish chef, food connoisseur and writer, whose book Bir Yemek Masalı won several Gourmand Awards in 2004 in Spain, including “Best Local Cookery Book in the World.” I adopted the recipe from the English translation of this award-winning book, A Cookery Tale.
for four people
2 bunch green chard
1 cup fine bulgur
1 very generous cup of cottage cheese or ricotta
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 big onion, grated
2 tbsp dry basil
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp butter
-Cut the stems of chard.
-Boil some water in a big pot. And cook chard leaves in boiling water for 2 minutes four or five leaves at a time.
-Put the leaves on a colander and let cool.
-In a bowl put the bulgur and add 1 cup of boling water. Wait until bulgur soaks the water.
-Add the rest of the ingredients to bulgur except for butter and mix well .
-Place a chard leaf on a flat surface (kitchen counter, tray, plate, etc.) the veiny part up. Cut the big vein in the middle out-otherwise it’d be hard to roll.
-Depending on the size of the leaf put 1-3 tbsp of stuffing on the top, not the stem, part of the leaf and roll like a cigar. Chard is much easier to deal with than grape leaves, and far more forgiving.
-Place the rolls side by side in an order in an panggangan proof dish.
-Place the small pieces of butter evenly on top.
-Pour 2 cups of hot water on top.
-Bake rolls in a preheated panggangan at 385F for approximately an hour checking frequently after half an hour to make sure it still has some water.
-Serve rolls hot with yogurt, and even better, with garlicy yogurt (=1 clove of smashed garlic mixed well with 2 cups of yogurt)