As I have mentioned here in my stuffed zucchini recipe post, we truly enjoy a variety of stuffed vegetables, dolmas, as a family. Just recently, a lovely lady from our local community, who has become a friend, happily shared some of her delicious vegetables from her plot in the community garden with us. The colours and the smell of all those vegetables and herbs were just divine. I just had to put everything aside and make something with the fresh produce as soon as I was given them. The first thing I did was to make something that my mum used to make for us when I was a child; triangular shaped stuffed silverbeet leaves. I actually make our stuffed leaves in two shapes and this is the harder shape to form. Stay tuned for a tutorial on the other way of stuffing leaves.
Tomato paste or diced tomatoes
Medium grain rice (about 1.5 - 2 teaspoonsful of rice for each leaf)
Fresh parsley (optional)
Black pepper (optional)
Wash your silverbeets. Separate your silverbeet leaves from their stems as shown in picture below. Don't throw away your stems, they make and add flavour to many delicious meals, which I will be sharing with you at the end of this post.
Dice your onions and cook in some olive oil and tomatoes or tomato paste until the onions are nice and soft.
Chop your fresh parsley.
Add your rice, salt, pepper and herbs (mint and parsley) to the onions and mix well. Add a small amount of boiling water, close the lid, turn off the stove and let it absorb the water.
In the meantime, boil a generous amount of water in a large pot and then put your silverbeet leaves in it. It takes only some seconds before the leaves soften. Once the leaves are softened, (approximately 30 seconds) put them in a strainer to drain the excess water off.
When the leaves and the stuffing are cool enough for you to touch comfortably, you can start making your dolmas. The pictures below show you how to make them step-by step. Just a reminder though that you will need to cut the leaves in half lengthwise, following the stem line. In other words, each leaf will make two triangle dolmas (if the leaves are really big, you can them in half and that will make four triangles from the same leaf).
Now, here is the details of the arts of making triangular shaped dolmas:
1. Put about a teaspoonful of stuffing on top of the 'wrong side' (the one with the more visible veins, the back of the smooth side) of the leaf close the larger end (which is where the stem was originally).
2-3-4. Fold the outer side of the leaf and place it on top of the stuffing, all the way to the inner edge (from right side to left side of the leaf).
5. Fold the leaf back onto the outer edge (so, it is folded from the left side to the right side).
6-7-8-9-10. Keep repeating the folding action each time to the opposite side (first towards the inner edge, then towards the outer edge and so on). This action is crucial in making the triangle shape.
11. If there is any small bits sticking out, fold them in and keep going as usual until the end.
12. Congratulations! Your first triangle is ready. I know it sounds like hard work but once you get the hang of it, it actually is enjoyable and is not really that hard. It also looks so much more pleasantly different to the usual rolled stuffed leaves.
Note: You can either cook your dolmas soon after you make them or pack them into freezer bags and store away in your freezer until you are ready to use them. They make great 'fast' food as it only takes about 20minutes to cook after this stage. When you come home later than expected or are too tired to cook something, instead of opting for nutrition-poor alternatives, you can just take this out of the freezer and while you are washing up and changing, your delicious and healthy meal will be pretty much ready.
To cook your dolmas, place them in a pot. Add boiling water to it about an inch or two below the dolmas' level. First cook in high heat until the water boils. When you see that the water is boiling in the pot, turn the heat down and let it cook for approximately 20 minutes and then voila! Your meal is ready. Natural yoghurt compliments it really well.
Before I say goodbye for now, let me quickly give you some ideas on how you can use the stems. I am sure there are many people over the world who could give you many recipes for them but what I generally use them for is as follows:
A) Dice and add to stir-fries.
B) Dice and add to vegetable soups.
C) Dice, lightly boil and make a mixture with some ricotta cheese to cook in pastry.
D) Dice, lightly boil and leave in the freezer until needed.
E) Dice and leave in the freezer until needed.
F) Dice, boil until soft, and leave aside while cooking some onion in oil and some tomato paste until the onions are soft. Once they soften, add the stems, add some salt and chilli flakes and cook for about 5 minutes. You can either eat it as is or you can crack some eggs on it and eat after the eggs are cooked. This particular recipe is one of our favourite silverbeet stem recipes.
Enjoy some nutritious homemade food today!