Have you noticed how everything looks and tastes better at the right time? Cabbages are greener in winter, strawberries taste and smell better in the spring, tomatoes are more red and juicy in summer, chestnuts are firmer and sweeter in the fall. Those who live in the city and make their shopping at the supermarket do not always have this perception of the seasons passing. For fruit is a little different, but for vegetables we find practically all varieties for sale all year round. For some years I have been trying to get most of the vegetables and fruit we eat at home directly from the producer. First, from a community of small local producers which have organized themselves throughout the country, and now from an organic farm that delivers me a weekly box directly at home. But nowadays also many local markets begin to appear where small producers sell their products directly.
I consider this proximity to local agriculture important. We all win: ourselves, by having tastier and cheaper products, since they are bought when they are more abundant; small producers, who manage to sell the result of their labor at a fairer price; and the environment, because the transport of goods is reduced, and thus the pollution generated by it. At a time when I can not see where we are going as a country, Europe or world, I believe that it’s these small, conscious gestures, repeated many times and by more and more people, that can make a difference for the better.
Turning to the recipe, which is why you are here, I leave you only two previous notes. The Swiss chard leaves are more delicate than those of cabbage that we use to roll with sausages, for example. So be careful when passing them through boiling water (it will make them more malleable and easy to roll), this will only take a few seconds, otherwise they will be overcooked and will rip easily. As for the filling, you can adapt it to your personal taste. In addition to the Swiss chard rolls stuffed with beef and rice, I also made some Swiss chard rolls stuffed with salmon (which I cut into very small pieces and mixed it with the onion, chopped chard stems and cooked rice) and they were equally good.
I hope you have the opportunity to try the recipe and please share your comments. See you soon.
Swiss chard rolls stuffed with minced beef and rice
- 16 large Swiss chard leaves
- 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 500g minced beef
- 1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 125ml (1/2 cup) white wine
- 1 large can (780g) canned tomato, roughly crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 springs of fresh thyme (you can also use fresh oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the tomato sauce:
- Start by making the tomato sauce. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and the garlic, until they are translucent. Add the white wine and let evaporate. Add the tomatoes and their juices, bay leaf and thyme and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes on low heat.
- While the tomato sauce is simmering, prepare the Swiss chard rolls. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Thoroughly wash the chard leaves under running water, cut the stems (do not throw them away) and trim the leaf center vein, being careful not to tear it. Dip the leaves, one at a time, into the boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove and place over kitchen paper to drain excess water.
- Finely chop the Swiss chard stems. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic, until the onion is translucent and without burning the garlic. Add the minced meat, chopped chard stems and parsley; season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until the meat loses its pink color, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and the tomato paste and mix well.
- Preheat the oven to 200º C. Spread the tomato sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. Gently pick up a chard leaf and place it open in front of you. Place one tablespoon of meat stuffing in the middle of the wider end of the leaf, leaving a margin (about 5 cm) below. Fold each side over the filling, then do the same with the margin that was left free and continue to roll over the remaining leaf. Put this Swiss chard roll in the baking dish, with the seam side facing down. Repeat with the rest of the chard leaves.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and return to the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve the Swiss chard rolls right away.