I don’t know what it is with me and stuffing vegetables. Something about stuffed vegetables is so homey and it can be enjoyed as a weeknight dinner or festive holiday meal. Whether its stuffed grape leaves, peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, aubergines, onions………..the list goes on and on! I’m always looking for fun new ways to enjoy a stuffed something.
Here I stuffed Swiss Chard leaves with Chicken, Vegetables and Lentils. I opted for lentils because I didn’t want to use Rice (Carb much?) and I needed something to bind the filling so it didn’t fall apart. The lentils worked beautifully! They also added a sort of creamy texture to the mix – which was awesome because ground chicken can dry out easily.
So without further adieu…….
This recipes requires some prep, then the assembly is easy!
- Boil your lentils
- Make your marinara
- Sautee your filling
- Shock boil your swiss chard leaves
FOR THE LENTILS:
Bring to a boil:
- 1 cup Lentils
- 3 cups Water
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Salt
When it comes to a boil, reduce it to simmer (covered) for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, drain and rinse the lentils and set them aside.
For the MARINARA:
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
- a generous handful of Parsley, chopped
- a dash of sugar
Add salt and pepper then cover and allow the marinara to simmer 20 minutes over low heat, then uncover and raise the heat to medium for another 10 minutes to allow the marinara to reduce a bit.
For the STUFFING:
- 1 medium Red Onion, minced
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1 bell pepper, diced small (Red, Yellow or Orange are all fine – you pick!)
- 3 tablespoons Red Pepper Paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- a dash of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon All Spice
Mix well and crumb the chicken as it cooks up – this is best done with a fork or potato masher.
As soon as the mixture is cooked through, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Don’t be tempted to cook it too long or you’ll dry out the chicken. Don’t be afraid to undercook it a bit either, because it will hang out in the oven later.
For the SWISS CHARD:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil……………..rinse an entire bunch of Swiss Chard leaves, leaving the stems attached, and prepare a large bowl of ICE WATER.
As soon as the water is boiling, dunk the swiss chard leaves into the water and allow them to hang out just 30 seconds, then immediately submerge them in the ice water! This will help retain the green color of the leaves when you roll them, and it will also ensure that the leaves don’t become overcooked and soggy – so you’ll be able to stuff and roll easily.
Trim your stem ends off and lay your leaves flat on your working surface.
Now you’re ready to assemble!
- Combine your lentils and ground chicken mixture – mix by hand, gently smashing the lentils as you mix!
- Place a heaping spoonful of the stuffing onto your swiss chard leaf, then roll (first the sides, then forward)
- Line rolls up in a baking dish
- Spoon marinara sauce over the top of the swiss chard
- Cover and bake in a PREHEATED 350 degree oven 20 minutes
- Uncover and bake another 10 minutes
- Serve and ENJOY!!!!