Greek Rainbow Chard Burritos

Can you tell that it was a rainy day when I was taking these photos? The lighting is a bit dark for what I was going for, but think of these burritos as that multicoloured arc lighting up the sky after a summer rain. Was that too cheesy? Yes, yes it was. I picked up this candy-coated rainbow chard at a local produce barn over the weekend and happily snacked on a leaf while driving home. I'd never tried rainbow chard before, but like its jelly bean palette, it turned out to be surprisingly sweet. Not saccharine, but pleasant. If you've ever tried to snack on raw kale, it's umm... pungent. Yes, let's stick with that. Raw kale needs a massage, some lemon or balsamic, sea salt, and a bit of marinating time to make it sing. I was pleasantly surprised that raw chard does not -welcome to Lazytown! It's irony, rich, and makes a beautiful burrito (two words that felt extremely weird typing next to each other) that can be eaten warm or cold, raw (without an overly-pungent "green" taste) or steamed. Options, options, options!    
This particular recipe was inspired by, and tastes similar to dolmades, the Greek-stuffed grape leaves, but also burritos, because those two things go together so well... I think "burrito" sounds more fun to eat and approachable to make than "dolmades," so "burritos" these shall be. Mashed chickpeas hold the works together for a non-crumbly filling and a little extra protein boost. Of course, you could substitute the chickpeas for some feta if you fancy, or keep it totally plant-based, or just go totally nuts and add a bit of both. More options, options, options! I was a bit overly enthusiastic about the pitted olives from Whole Foods that I purchased last week, and have added them in here along with my garden's fresh mint, the crunchy chard stems, onion, garlic, oregano, a couple silky glugs of olive oil, and a hit of red wine vinegar. I'm convinced that vinegar makes everything better and I won't hear otherwise.  

The wrapping and rolling is the same as a burrito roll, except with an extra crushing step. It's all in the crush, tuck, tuck, roll, roll (sing it!). If you want an even easier time rolling, you can pre-steam the leaves, but I'm doing the Lazytown version today. To "crush," making the leaves stay flat and increase their flexibility, take the palm of your hand and apply some pressure where the stalk meets the green leaves. You're now ready to scoop out the filling and "tuck, tuck, roll, roll." 

At this point, you'll have to ask yourself the important questions in life: Do I want to eat them "raw" or cooked? Do I want them chilled or warm? It's okay, I'm here for you if you get overwhelmed, this is intense stuff. The filling is completely cooked, so it's really up to you. I've had them both ways and can't decide which I enjoy more (these tough decisions keep me up at night, I tell ya). If you want to be civilized and eat this with a fork and knife, that's okay, but it's really much more fun, and quite frankly, easier, to eat these like a burrito -pick it up and get in there, we're all friends here. Plus, we all remember when Elaine's boss, Mr. Pitt, tried to eat a chocolate bar with a knife and fork -let's not start that trend with burritos, please and thank you. 

If you want to serve these with some plain yogurt for dipping, I would encourage that. Or, a zippy tahini dressing is equally as delectable. Something soft, creamy, and bright is really what you want to compliment all of the flavours and textures in these.  

Along with being simple, make-ahead, packable/portable, scrumptious, and not too heavy (yet filling), these also deliver the power of dark leafy greens. Swiss chard in particular is packed with iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamins C, E, K, and A, potassium, and much more. Healthy burritos? Yes, please! I'll take 10.      

Greek Rainbow Chard Burritos

Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan  

Serves 5 as a main, 10 as a side/snack/appetizer 

10 large rainbow or regular swiss chard leaves, reserved, stems finely diced (for filling)
½ cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
Ground pepper, to taste
20 kalamata or nicoise olives, pitted and finely chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint or dill (or a combination)
2 tbsp dried currants (optional)

Plain yogurt (for nut/seed-free) or tahini dressing, for dipping


Make the rice: In a medium saucepan, combine brown rice with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook on low for 35 to 45 minutes until tender and all the water has been absorbed. Cool.

Make the filling: In a wide high-sided sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat (don’t let smoke). Add finely chopped chard stems, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened and translucent (about 10 minutes). Take off heat, add in olives, chickpeas, and vinegar. Mash with a fork or back of a spoon until chickpeas are slightly broken down and mixture holds together. Stir in cooked rice. Cool completely. Once completely cool, add in mint or dill and currants, if using.

Make the burritos: Lay a chard leaf with the rough side facing you. Press the palm of your hand to crush the stalk slightly. At the bottom of the wrap (leave a ½-inch border on the bottom and 2 sides, scoop 1/3 cup filling; form into a log shape. Tuck in the two outside pieces and roll until you get your “burrito” shape. Place seam-side down on a plate and chill until ready to steam. Or, if you’re eating it raw, dig in now.

To steam: Place chard burritos seam-side down in a steamer basket. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes. Eat immediately warm or cool a little or chill completely (this helps them hold their shape and allows the flavours to meld). Serve with plain yogurt or tahini dressing for dipping/drizzling.

Raw chard burritos can be kept assembled in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Steamed can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 day.  

1. They taste wonderful “raw,” without steaming, but if you do steam, I definitely prefer them steamed and then chilled over warm out of the steamer. I also think hand-held is the best way to eat a burrito.
2. If rainbow chard isn’t available, regular red or green chard will work well.
3. Look for chard with very large leaves to help accommodate the amount of filling suggested. 


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