Swiss Chard and Quinoa Dolmas with Tzatziki is a fun vegetarian twist on the traditional Middle Eastern dish made with grape leaves, meat and rice. Serve warm or cold for an appetizer or light meal!
The inspiration behind this recipe:
Dolmas are one of our favorite things to order when we eat at any Middle Eastern restaurant that has them on the menu. Before the current world situation when grocery stores had olive bars, I’d often fill up a container and take them home to enjoy.
Because they were so readily available, I never made them at home. Then, 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 saute them in olive oil with garlic like I normally do.
This was a great choice!
They’re a little bit of work, but once you have the Swiss chard leaves prepped and the quinoa filling made, the process goes very quickly!
What are dolmas?
Dolmas have been a part of Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries. They are generally leaves filled with a savory filling but can also refer to stuffed vegetables.
How to make Swiss Chard and Quinoa Dolmas with Tzatziki:
- Ingredients you’ll need for the dolmas:
- 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
- Using the stem of the Swiss chard as a a “handle,” dunk 5-6 leaves at a time in salted, boiling water.
- Drain the leaves and spread 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 and let that cool.
- Start 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 chard leaves.
- Make the tzatziki. Ingredients you’ll need:
- A large cucumber
- Greek yogurt
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Fresh mint
And serve! Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs if desired.
Serve as part of a Middle Eastern-inspired meal with:
- Middle Eastern Spiced Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
- Healthier Turkish Eggplant Casserole – Imam Bayildi
- Turkish Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki
- Grilled Turkish Ground Lamb Kebabs
More Middle Eastern-inspired vegetarian recipes you’ll love!
- Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
- Moroccan-Spiced Caponata
- Greek Quinoa Cakes with Tzatziki
- Grilled Vegetable Kabobs with Charmoula
- Brown Rice and Summer Vegetable Casserole with Feta and Black Olives
- Quinoa, Feta and Pistachio-Stuffed Acorn Squash
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- 25-30 small to medium Swiss chard leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
- 3 cloves of 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
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 heaping tablespoons 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
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Lemon wedges and kalamata olives for serving
- DOLMADES: 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.
- TZATZIKI: 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.
MAKE AHEAD: Swiss chard leaves can be blanched up to 4 hours in advance. Refrigerate until needed. Quinoa filling can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Refrigerate until needed.
WASTE NOT TIP: If using the water from blanching the Swiss chard to cook the quinoa, you may not need to add additional salt.
Serving Size:5 dolmas
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 1039mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 15g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.