Recipe: Stuffed Silverbeet leaves with nuts, cheese and zucchini

I believe I have today achieved new levels of overcatering.  We are positively drowning in leftovers, and I am already plotting ways to sneakily bring some along to the family gathering tomorrow, even though I’m technically not supposed to bring anything.  A big bowl of roast pepper antipasto doesn’t count as bringing stuff, does it?  It’s not like I’m bringing three trays of pizza, cannoli and canneloni and require two people to help me unload the car…

This is not dessert, this is just the platter that goes with dessert...

This is not actual dessert, this is just the sweet platter that goes with dessert…

(Hmm, just had a call from my aunt.  Very bad phone line.  I can’t tell if the antipasto were vetoed or not.  Best be on the safe side and bring them, don’t you think?  And I am definitely allowed to bring sweets, that part was very clear.)

Anyway, the important thing is that I have now made 28 mince pies, so Christmas is complete.

pies

It’s possible I have one or two little issues around food, but I came by them honestly.

list

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, today’s feast was The Token Meat plus a huge number of salads and vegetable sides and a probably entirely unnecessary vegetarian main, but what if there wasn’t enough food? (There was.)

The trick with doing this sort of mixed feast properly is to make sure the vegetarian main is reasonably high in protein and iron, so that it goes well with the same sort of side dishes as the meat, and also provides a similarly nutritious meal.  (Though, actually, with all the multitudes of legumes on the table, protein wasn’t so much of an issue.) In any case, this stuffed silverbeet dish was suitably festive and indulgent in taste, full of nuts and vegetables and a bit of dairy and egg (but fear not – it is also readily veganisable), and had a pleasingly seasonal appearance, with dark green leaves, red sauce, and breadcrumbs and parmesan sprinkled like snow on the hillside.  Which, of course, we do not have around here, but it’s the thought that counts…

Also, it’s a little fiddly, but not actually difficult to prepare if you have a bit of time to work on it.

Your shopping list

1/2 cup burghul (rice can be substituted for a GF version)
olive oil
1 onion
3 zucchini (375g or so)
1/2 tsp pizza herbs (I use a mixture containing paprika, oregano, garlic, marjoram and a little chilli)
1/2 tsp porcini powder (but don’t tell my brother in law)
3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup pecans
50 g sun dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup cheddar or pizza cheese if you are feeling lazy like I was, or use a vegetarian cheeze or add walnuts and a bit of nutritional yeast)
1 egg (or 1/3 cup smooth tofu)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, fresh, plus more for the topping
1/2 tsp roast garlic if you have it, which of course you do
2 bunches silverbeet
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tins tomatoes, chopped
handful of basil leaves or a squeeze of Basil From A Tube
salt, pepper
parmesan to top

Now what will you do with it?

First, make up the burghul by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over it in a bowl, covering it and leaving it to stand.  You are aiming to end up with one cup of cooked burghul.  Or one cup of cooked brown rice or wild rice, if that’s how you roll.

Ooh, I said roll!  Like silverbeet roll!

(Yes, I’m very tired and have read far too many Christmas cracker jokes today.  Incidentally, what do you call a bunch of chess enthusiasts bragging about their victories in a hotel lobby?)

Anyway.  Chop your onion, heat some olive oil, and start to sauté the onion a bit while you slice the zucchini.  Add the zucchini and pizza herbs and porcini powder as you go.  And don’t worry about chopping things too finely, because you will be using the food processor on everything anyway.

zucch1

Sauté everything until the onions and zucchini are beginning to soften and get golden in places, then add the nuts, and sauté a bit more, just to start getting a bit of toasty nutty goodness.

zucch2

Pour all the cooked veggies into the food processor. Squeeze the oil out of your sun dried tomatoes, and add them, along with the bulgur, cheese, egg, breadcrumbs and roast garlic.  Process until everything is minced and combined – think veggie burger texture, because that’s essentially what you are making here, though it’s a little on the wet side.

filling

Put a big stockpot full of water on to boil and wash your silverbeet.  Remove the stems to about the point where they start to get thin and soft, and blanch them all in boiling water for a few minutes, until they are wilted but still pretty bright.  Drain, and let cool a little.  Pouring cold water over them is a good plan here.

leaves

Meanwhile, make the easiest tomato sauce in the world by sautéeing the garlic in a little olive oil until you can smell it, adding the tomatoes and a little water (just pour a bit into the bottom of each tin and swish it around to bring out the last bits of tomato, and pour into the saucepan), and let simmer with a bit of salt and pepper while you do everything else.  After about 20 minutes, add the basil, stir, and remove from the heat.

Now it’s assembly time!  Pour half the tomato sauce into the bottom of a large (32cm by 25 cm in my case) casserole dish.

Take one silverbeet leaf at a time, and lay on the board with the cut out stem end facing you. Take a small handful (the size of a dolmades) of the filling and roll it into a sausage, then place just above the V where the stem stops.

stuff1

Fold in the sides over the filling.

stuff2

Now fold over the split end, and roll up.  Lay it in the sauce.

stuff4

Repeat, until you run out of filling or leaves.  Some of your leaves will have torn in half, and that’s OK – just use two in a cross.

rolls

Spread the remaining sauce over the top of your stuffed leaves, and top with breadcrumbs and parmesan if desired.

sauced

Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes.

bake

Serve!  But possibly not with two kinds of roast vegetable and four kinds of salad, because it turns out that that is excessive.

baked

This should feed about 6-8 people, but lots more if you have made too many side dishes.

Too many side dishes

Too many side dishes

Variations

As I’ve flagged, this is fairly easy to render gluten-free using rice for burghul and gluten-free breadcrumbs.  It veganises with tofu replacing the egg and walnuts and nutritional yeast replacing the cheese – or, really, you may not need to replace the cheese.  Seasoned breadcrumbs would be the topping here.  This is reasonably low glycemic index, but not really low fructose, because of the onions and garlic.

In terms of flavours, you can replace the zucchini with mushrooms, eggplant, or any reasonably meaty vegetable.  Probably not capsicum, that would be a bit much.  You can replace the leaves with cabbage leaves or Chinese broccoli, which was my first choice, in fact, but not available.   Rainbow chard might be fun, too, for the pretty veins.  Or you could stuff an entirely different vegetable with this mixture, and roast it.  Tomatoes would be fun.

The filling also makes a decent veggie burger, though it is a little on the wet side – you might want to take out some of the zucchini or add more nuts.

It’s pretty yummy no matter what you do, though.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night – I’m off to sing descants, because that’s how we know it’s Christmas…

candle

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One year ago: Recipe: DIY Lemon Curd Tarts and other last minute Christmas ideas
Two years ago:
Farmers’ Market: Last Market of the year!

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