Here’s a spin on the traditional dolma recipe using Swiss Chard! Swiss Chard and Quinoa Dolmas with Tzatziki is a fun vegetarian twist on the traditional Middle Eastern dish usually made with grape leaves, meat and rice. Serve these stuffed chard leaves warm or cold for an appetizer or light meal!
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
Dolmas are one of our favorite things to order when we eat at any Middle Eastern or Greek restaurant that has them on the menu.
I never made them at home until my sister gifted me a lovely bunch of tender, young Swiss chard from her garden. I wanted to do something special with them instead of just sauteing them in olive oil with garlic like I normally do.
These vegetarian dolmas made with quinoa were a great choice!
Dolmas are a little bit of work, but once you have the Swiss chard leaves prepped and the quinoa filling made, the stuffed chard leaves process goes very quickly and no additional cooking is necessary!
Let’s make ’em!
What are dolmas or dolmades?
Dolma and dolmades recipes have been a part of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine for centuries. Dolma or Dolmades (the Greek version) translates to stuffed vegetables. They are generally grape leaves filled with a savory meat and rice filling or vegetarian dolmas made with seasoned rice but can also refer to stuffed vegetables.
How to make Stuffed Chard Leaves (Dolma Recipe) with Tzatziki:
Dolma Recipe Ingredients:
- 25 to 30 small to medium Swiss chard leaves
- Olive oil
- A small onion
- Vegetable broth or water from blanching the chard
- Lemon juice
- Golden raisins
- Cayenne pepper
- Pine nuts
- Salt and black pepper
- Gather and prep all the ingredients.
- Using the stem of the Swiss chard as a “handle,” dunk 5-6 leaves at a time in salted, boiling water.
- Drain the leaves and spread them out on a clean kitchen towel to drain and dry off.
- Cut the stem from the leaves making a V-shape and creating two flaps.
- Finely chop the stems to add to the quinoa for zero-waste cooking.
- Make the quinoa filling for the dolmades recipe and let it cool.
- Begin filling the Swiss chard leaves.
- Place equal parts of the quinoa filling in the center of each chard leaf.
- Bring the ends up and over the filling, tuck in the sides and roll into a neat cylinder shape.
- Done! Repeat with the rest of the filling and the remaining Swiss chard leaves.
- Make the tzatziki. Ingredients you’ll need:
- A large cucumber
- Greek yogurt
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Fresh mint
And serve! Garnish the stuffed chard leaves with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs if desired.
Chef Tips and Tricks:
- Getting quinoa cooked right got you down? Typically, the instructions say to rinse to remove the bitter coating known as saponin, add it to boiling water in a 2:1 ratio, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The result I got was often undercooked quinoa with water remaining in the pot.
- The method I’ve found that works best is to leave the cover off while it’s simmering so I can watch it.
- After about 12 to 13 minutes when much of the water has been absorbed or cooked out and the “germ” begins to appear, I take it off the heat, cover it and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Quinoa is cooked when the germ has been fully released and it’s fluffy and tender.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The word dolma is of Turkish origin and it means something stuffed or filled.
Absolutely! Because these are vegetarian dolmas, they’re especially healthy. Grape leaves are packaged in a salty brine, however, this dolma recipe of stuffed chard leaves is lower in sodium because you can control the amount of salt in the blanching water.
If a dolma recipe has meat, it is typically served hot or warm. Because these are vegetarian dolmas, they’re delicious cold or at room temperature.
What to eat with dolmas:
- Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
- Skillet Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Feta Pie)
- Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- Greek Vegetable Salad with Marinated Feta Cheese
- Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad
- Mediterranean Chopped Salad with Chickpeas
More Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-inspired vegetarian recipes you’ll love!
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Vegetarian Dolma Recipe for Swiss Chard Leaves (with Tzatziki)
- 25-30 small to medium Swiss chard leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion - chopped (approximately 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth - or water from blanching the Swiss chard
- 1 large lemon - juiced (approximately 4 tablespoons)
- 1 cup quinoa - rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins - coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 heaping tablespoon pine nuts - lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- 1 large cucumber - peeled if desired, seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups Greek yogurt - regular, reduced-fat or fat-free
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- Lemon wedges and kalamata olives - for serving
- Prepare an ice bath. Place a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt.
- Using the stem as a "handle," dunk 5-6 leaves at a time into the boiling water. Cook for 15-30 seconds then transfer to the ice bath. Repeat with remaining leaves.
- Drain the chard and spread out on the clean kitchen towel. Blot dry with another clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
- Cut the stem out of each leaf, making a V-shape and creating two "flaps."
- Finely chop the stems.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and the chopped chard stems, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until beginning to soften.
- Add the garlic and cook very briefly approximately 10-15 seconds. Add the vegetable broth, lemon juice, quinoa and raisins. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and let simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes or until much of the liquid has been absorbed and the germ is beginning to show. Cover and let stand off the heat for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the parsley, dill, cayenne, pinenuts and salt and black pepper, to taste. Let cool.
- Place equal amounts of the quinoa filling in the center of each chard leaf. Bring the ends up and over the filling, fold in the sides and roll into a neat cylinder shape. Repeat with all the leaves.
- Arrange on a serving platter and refrigerate until needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- Place cucumber in a colander or sieve. Sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Combine all the tzatziki ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with dolmades.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.