Stuffed Swiss Chard Leaves


        3 lbs. Swiss chard
        1 1/4 cups rice
        1/2 cup hummus (chick peas) (nuts may be substituted)
        3/4 cup chopped parsley
        1/2 cup chopped mint
        1/2 cup minced scallions
        1 cup chopped tomatoes
        1 cup olive oil
        1 1/2 tsp. salt
        1/2 tsp. pepper
        1/4 tsp. cinnamon
        1 1/2 cups water
        1/2 cup lemon juice *
        1 tomato, sliced
        Several garlic cloves
        Several small white onions
This dish is similar to the stuffed vine leaves but more zesty. Remove chard stems. Soften leaves by dipping one at a time in boiling, salted water for a minute. Drain and pile in deep dish while preparing stuffing. Wash and drain rice. Crack hummus (which has been soaked overnight) with rolling pin. Discard skins which come off during rolling. Mix rice, hummus (or nuts), parsley, mint, chopped onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper, cinnamon, oil and most of the lemon juice or sammak water (see footnote). Reserve small amount of lemon juice to sprinkle on chard rolls near end of cooking. Stuff one leaf at a time using a heaping teaspoonful of stuffing. Fold up from bottom over stufling and fold in from each side to center; then roll up like a cigar. Place in layers with open end down in pressure cooker, over the sliced tomatoes, onions and garlic. Sprinkle lemon juice or sammak water and half teaspoon salt over top layer. Pour in water to cover. Cook under pressure 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer to reduce sauce. Turn out onto serving platter. Serve cold. Cook these without pressure if preferred. Prepare as above. Cook gently in covered pan until stuffing is done - probably about 45 minutes.

* Sammak water is often substituted for lemon juice. It is an infusion of locally obtained sammak (sumac) seeds and water. It is somewhat more astringent tasting than lemon juice.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)