Monday, 25 April 2011

Collard Leaf-Wrapped Herb Rice with Radish Tzatziki, or "Pseudolmades"

Spring greens, aka collard greens, are everywhere now, and both Tesco and Asda are selling huge bags for 50 pence. I found myself with yet another bag of these leafy vegetables because I cannot resist a cheap deal. Keeping a lookout for what's on offer and what's in season is also one of my best ways to stay within my real food student budget. After too many consecutive meals of spring greens thrown into all my soups and broths or into all sorts of stirfries, I wanted something different, and this recipe came to mind.

Dolmades are Greek parcels of rice wrapped with grape leaves or vine leaves, and there are loads of different varieties. I could have done this with some minced meat in the rice mixture too, or extra diced vegetables, but I really wanted it simple for the zesty spring herbs (that I freshly 'harvested' from my windowsill garden) to shine through. I liked them instantly when I first tasted them because they reminded me of dish from home- Chinese lotus-leaf wrapped rice 荷叶饭 loh mai kai- but now with an edible wrapper! It's hard to come across vine leaves, so collard greens, with their huge tough leaves that stand well to slow-cooking, are a great alternative, i.e. pseudolmades (creative rights go to the real food dudes).

makes 8 parcels
8 large collard leaves
1/3 cup long-grain rice (soaked overnight if brown), plus 1/2 cup homemade stock/water
3-4 spring onions, white parts, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
handful of currants (or sultanas or preferred dried fruit)
handful of pumpkin seeds, soaked and dehydrated or toasted (originally pine nuts, but they're expensive)
handful of chopped coriander and mint leaves
juice and zest of half a lemon
sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Saute the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of evoo, then add the rice, currants and pumpkin seeds to toast for 2 min more. Add the stock/water, season, bring to boil and then let simmer till al-dente, about 15 min. Add the chopped herbs and lemon juice and zest to the cooked rice mixture.

2. Steam or blanch the collard leaves in boiling water for 5-10 min so you get cooked, flexible leaves that you can work with easily. De-stem the leaves.

3. A picture speaks a thousand words, so 4 should be more than enough.

(Originally you would stuff the vine leaves with uncooked rice and then let them cook inside the vine leaves, but I think the collard leaves will turn to mush by then.)

4. Steam the parcels, or slowly simmer them over low heat for 30-40 mins in stock with some olive oil and lemon juice added (water should reach halfway up the parcels), adding more water if needed. Serve warm or cool.

Ok now for the tzatziki, totally optional but you must do it.

Tzatziki is a great mediterranean dip that's really refreshing and easy to make! It kind of remindsme of Indian raita too, which is also basically yogurt and cucumber. I added radish too as it's in season and it adds a bit of pepperiness, you can cut it out and add more cucumber!

Radish Tzatziki
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and minced
2-3 radishes, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped mint (or dill)
juice of half a lemon
extra virgin olive oil

1. To make greek yogurt, just strain the yogurt for a few hours till you get a thick creamy consistency. I use Yeo Valley organic yogurt, which is so creamy it's almost greek-like in consistency already so I skip this step.
2. Mix all the ingredients together, and refrigerate for half an hour or so for the flavours to meld.

This is great with toasted pita bread or as a dip for all sorts of things or even to accompany poached fish!

I served my dolmades with lemon slices and tzatziki spooned over generously. Together, they form a great dish that makes use of all that spring has to offer: collard greens, cucumber, radish, spring onions, lemons and fresh herbs like mint and coriander! How's this for a super springtime meal!

This is part of Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.


  1. These look so delicious! I need to make this for sure.

  2. yum, yum, yum. this looks so good! I'm so glad you stopped by my blog, because now I've found this one. Love it!!

  3. Oh, you know what? I think this sounds even better using collards...awesome!!

  4. I love this recipe. It looks so good and I adore the Tzatziki too. Really good. I live your blog and the photos are fab too!

  5. I HAVE tons of collard greens in the garden right now! This recipe is perfect for us!

  6. Your cooking is not bad for a college student, most important knows how to budget. Great clicks you've put up!

  7. Awesome stuff! Those look great. Makes me think that it might be getting close to time for another Greek night around here...

  8. This looks lovely. I really like homemade tzatsiki. I made stuffed vine leaves just once but found them to be a lot of effort so I like the way you've reduced both the cooking time and effort.

  9. Thanks! I'm glad the shortcuts worked out ;)

  10. Ciao and thanks for all the comments on my blog! I really appreciate! Have a nice day.

  11. What a clever recipe! I love the look of these little pockets of rice ... the cuke and radish salad looks delish too! Great springtime flavors! What a great blog you have! Thanks for visiting The Spice Garden! Come back soon!

  12. You're such a good cook, Shu Han! I really love all the simple yet healthy and yummy recipes you share!
    Keep it're doing really great!

  13. What a great recipe! I agree with cooking the rice beforehand - it mayyy have gone slightly green :) I only have a Sainsbury's where I go to uni, and ASDA and Tesco are like a 30 min trek away :( But I shall hunt around Sainsbury's for these (my Sainsbury's is also quite smalll...) Nice recipe!

    Also - I think we are in the same boat in terms of our studies/blogging. But at least you do graphic design which is somewhat arts based ( think I'm grasping at straws here!). I'm off to have a little look around your recipes now, the photos looks fantastic! Thanks for visiting mine :)

  14. This looks fabulous. What a great idea :)

  15. thank you! (: (:

    yup xinmei, i believe sains should have spring greens too! where is stayed last year, I used to go to sains and they had a lot of those too!

  16. What a fantastic recipe - and so good for you too! Thank you for linking up with Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home. I've followed your blog :)

    Hope to see you at the linky again this week - it's up now!

  17. I love your photos - thanks for showing how to roll the dolamades. The whole thing looks crazy delicious. Thanks for linking this to the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  18. Totally bookmarked this! I'm in love with the idea of the radish in the tzatziki! <3 Thank you so much for your sweet comments! It's been a while since someone has left a heartfelt one =) Thanks Shu and sooo nice to "meet" you! I'm following so I can keep up with your delish recipes =)

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  19. thanks alot, i had lots of fun rolling the dolmades myself! and jennifer, it's great to meet you too, keep up the great great work! (:

  20. This looks delicious! I love wrapping food in food :)
    I will try this when I find Colard greens again. They don't sell it where I'm from sadly!