Swiss Chard Leaves Stuffed with Middle Eastern Rice
February 23, 2010

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One of the very first vegan dinners I prepared for myself without the help of a cookbook–and one of the meals I’ve enjoyed most consistently since–was stuffed cabbage. I’d cook bulgur wheat with currants, celery, carrots, cinnamon, and cumin, and I’d stuff it into steamed cabbage leaves. It was always a wonderful meal, and it still is! It’s a standby whenever I have guests over. Lately, I’ve been contemplating how to raw-ify it, or create a sister dish that shares the Middle Eastern spices and general effect, but demands no cooking time. And from that, my Middle Eastern chard rolls were born.

This is one of my favorite raw dinners to date. In place of the bulgur, I use cauliflowers and pine nuts to make a raw “rice,” and it alone is worthy of a blog post! It’s a delicious dish to serve stuffed into wraps, on top of salads, or simply to eat on its own. In this dish, I stuffed the rice into Swiss chard leaves and topped them with my raw marinara sauce. It’s a hearty, comforting, and delicious raw meal–a perfect antidote to the winter doldrums.

Swiss Chard Leaves Stuffed with Middle Eastern Rice (yields 8-12 wraps)

For the “Rice”

4 cups cauliflower
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp agave, or a sprinkling of stevia
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins or currants

Process all ingredients but the raisings in a food processor fitted with an S blade, till it’s finely diced and resembles rice, like so:

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Transfer rice to a bowl, add the raisins, and mix well:

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For the Wraps:

8-12 Swiss chard leaves, lightly steamed if desired.

For the Marinara:

1 very large red or yellow bell pepper, deseeded
¾ cup cherry or roma tomatoes
¼ cup sundried tomatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle dried thyme
Generous sprinkle dried oregano
¼ cup basil
Stevia to taste

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till thick and smooth.

To assemble the wraps, cut each chard leaf in half and remove the thickest part of the stem. Place 2-3 tbsp rice mixture about one inch from the bottom of the leaf, like so:

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Roll the wrap up, and place it on a serving platter with the seam side down. After you’ve plated your wraps, dress them with a few tablespoons of the raw marinara sauce. Dig in!

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I served these delicious wraps with some steamed broccoli and beets and a bit of leftover salad from lunchtime:

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It was a perfect meal.

The next day, I scooped about a half cup of the “rice” over my lunchtime salad:

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It was, again, perfect.

This is the kind of meal I love: creative, but not time intensive; filling, but not dense; savory, but a little bit sweet. It’s a little more innovative than my usual rotation of salads, soups, and grains, but it’s easy to prepare and doesn’t demand extra fancy kitchen equipment. I hope you all give the recipe a try soon, and that you enjoy it as much as I did.

And of course, I hope that your weeks are off to a good start. It’s raining and gloomy here in NYC, but at least it’s not as frigid as it has been recently. Happy Tuesday!

xo

Categories: Dinner, Gluten Free, Raw

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    59 Comments
  1. Great site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover
    the same topics discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get opinions from
    other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let
    me know. Thanks!

  2. Hi Gena,

    I just stumbled across your site while looking for a raw kale salad recipe and I just love it! For lunch today, I made this dish and it was amazing. The combination of flavors was perfect. And I have to tell you, this was the first raw meal I’ve ever made. I’m inspired to try all your recipes now! Thanks for such a wonderful blog.

    Katy

  3. Hi there — this looks beautiful, but like some other commenters, I have to avoid pine nuts — would almonds work okay as well? Or hazelnuts?

    And sadly I don’t like cauliflower… any ideas for other vegetables that would create a good “rice”? (would parsnips be too crunchy?).

    Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Hi Lesley,

      I’d suggest cashews — almonds are a bit too dense. And parnsips would work, but they’re very distinctive raw — I’d say jicama is a good bet too.

      Gena

  4. Gena this looks delish! I have some cauliflower in the fridge that is just waiting for a recipe like this.

  5. Synchronicity! 🙂 I found myself with every ingredient for this, including leftover marinara sauce from last night, and no inspiration for dinner. Guess what was on the menu tonight? 🙂

    Thanks Gena, you rock! This recipe is amazing and has been taste approved by this little raw psycho 🙂 Just the thing on a waning summer evening 🙂

  6. Hi Gena,

    I love your well written, descriptive, gramatically correct and articulate site (I’m an English teacher and I appreciate good blog writing-not required but appreciated nonetheless). I always learn a lot from reading your posts. Recently, I finished ph Miracle by Dr. Young and wondered if you had read it or had any comments on the topic of ph. His recommendations seem extreme-no fruit, mushrooms, yams. Any thoughts?

    Thank you, Patrizia

    • Hi Patrizia,

      I like Dr. Young’s work but consider it best for those who are really battling specific health concerns — it’s too extreme, in my opinion, for most normal people.

      Gena

  7. This dish look so interesting and yummy I just have to try it! I don’t have all the ingredients on hand like I did with your poppyseed dressing so sometime in the future this one will happen. The real test will be to see what my husband says about it.

  8. Looks great! I’ve been getting some really tender swiss chard from our farmer’s market lately, I’ve been juicing it but this recipe would be a nice change.

  9. I love the rice b/c there is not very many nuts in it, no garlic or onion or much salt! I’m taking it that the cauli was totally raw, never steamed. Otherwise it would have turned to soup, not “rice”. I have seen raw rice obvi in tons of places but this just reminds me, I realllllly need to do this!

    Thanks Gena for the recipes!!

  10. This looks delicious, but I need to avoid the pine nuts for their high arginine content. I am very prone to getting cold sores (herpes simplex type 1) and have noticed, since going vegan-I’ve been getting them more often. So I’m trying to cut back on arginine rich foods in my diet, but it’s tough… attempting to follow a raw vegan diet most of time-nuts are a big source of protein and I need to avoid most nuts, unfortunately. That and dark chocolate-which is REALLY hard to give up.

    Have you encountered any other vegans suffering from this problem?

  11. I have Swiss chard leaves in my fridge and was contemplating what to do with them. Oh wait, they are collard greens. Still, I think it would work! Delicious!!!

  12. Oh lovely! I sometimes use cauliflower to make a tabouli-type dish and this looks delicious! I don´t digest nuts very well, any ideas what tu use instead? Some olive oil, perhaps?

  13. Oh yum. I love cauliflower “rice”! Probably one of my favorite raw foods. And when it comes to raw greens, I’m much happier with chard than something tough like collards. I must try this!!!

  14. if im not a huge fan of pinenuts do you have any other substitute that you think would work? it looks gorgeous! well done gena 🙂

  15. This looks really good and super easy to make. I have never tried swiss chard but I will have to be on the look out for it in the grocery store. I love when meals are easy to prepare and still filling. Sometimes it is fun to make more complicated dishes but I find that the simple ones are usually the way to go.

  16. sounds incredible! I already do the stuffed cabbage approach for a nice, easy vegan meal when I have all that stuff in the fridge. I always have bulgur on hand though soaking!

  17. YUMMY! I remember at 105 when we made Jeweled rice dish…this reminds me of it. I am craving it now. Love how you made two meals at of it!! Cauliflower is my favorite way to make “rice”

  18. Thanks for the recipe! I love those flavors. I’ve been storing my food processor at my parent’s house, but I’m visiting them next week– I think it’s time to bring it back with me! I might have to “break it in” by making this! 🙂

  19. Whoa this sounds good. THe huz and I are on a chard kick right now too, so I might have to give it a try. I thought I would try cutting up some raw chard stem and adding it to a salad yesterday….blegh!! Bad idea..haha..it tasted like straight up weeds, haha. I do normally like the stem after it’s been steamed for a few minutes. The filling for this sounds spectacular!

  20. swiss chard was sooo expensive the last time i went to the market but i really want to buy some so i can make some veggie wrapss! that looks sooo amazing and pretty!

  21. How cool is this “rice” idea? I love cauliflower so I am definitely going to give this a try. Thanks for the great recipe as always!