A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My favorite way to use collard greens--delicious Dolmades!

Dolmades with Yogurt Sauce
A version of the traditional Greek appetiser, dolmades (dohl-MAH-dehs), this is a large leaf stuffed with a well-seasoned filling of rice, veggies and meat.  I use collard greens because the stalks are more pliable; but chard, kale or any large, leafy green works.  These can be served as an appetiser, or serve several on a plate for supper.  It's an excellent way to stretch food dollars and/or use up leftover meats.

Prepare and blanch collard leaves
Wash collards and cut off stalks past the thickest part of the rib, after where the leaf starts.  Save the stalks. Blanch the leaves by immersing them in a large, shallow pan of boiling, salted water for just a few seconds.  Lay them aside to cool on a cookie sheet or cutting board.

For the filling:
Fully cook 3-4 cups rice, any kind or combo.  I like either brown rice or a combination of Jasmin and Wild Rice.  Set aside to cool.
For the next part, you should have a total of 2-3 cups diced veggies and meat before cooking. 
Dice up the saved collard stalks, a small onion, a few cloves of garlic and any other raw veggies you have on hand or would like to include.  You can also include mushrooms.  Saute diced veggies in 1-2 TB olive oil over med-high heat just until starting to soften.  Add very small amount (2-4 TB) of liquid (water, broth or boullion); cover and let cook over low heat until soft--5-10 min. Drain off liquid and save.  Set mixture aside to cool. 
Dice up any raw or leftover meat you would like to use.  Smoked meats or sausage taste best.  If you are starting with raw meat, cook it first in a fry pan with 1-2 TB oil and set aside to cool.
Combine rice, cooked veggies and meat in large bowl.  Add the following spice mixture:  small pinch nutmeg, 1/2 tsp dill weed, 1 TB chopped fresh oregano and 1 TB chopped fresh rosemary (or instead of fresh oregano and rosemary, use 1 TB dry Italian herb seasoning).  Add 1-2 tsp balsamic (or other) vinegar.  Mix well.
This is my ready-to-go filling using smoked turkey. 
The smoked turkey gave the mix an awsome flavor!

To assemble the dolmades:
Place 1/4 cup of the filling onto the center of the blanched green.  Fold in ends and fold over sides like a small bundle and place with fold down on cookie sheet.  Just before serving, heat saved liquid in large, shallow pan.  Place bundles in single layer and cover to heat through.  Serve with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt  (sour cream may be substituted or use half of each). 
Optional but good:  add 1 cucumber--peeled, seeded and fine-diced.
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayene (may substitute paprika if you don't like the heat)
1 TB cider vinegar (any kind can be substituted)
1 TB dill weed
1 TB chopped mint (optional)
S&P to taste.
Mix well and chill until ready to serve.  May thin with a little H&H or milk.

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