I was quite spoiled in California, as most dark greens were available all year round at my local market. My local co-op just began getting organic kale and rainbow chard, so I was really excited to integrate them back into my cooking. I found a similar version of the recipe below in a publication that my co-op carries (though the name escapes me), and made a few modifications. I love this recipe because it channels my love of Moroccan flavors and integrates it with my love of chard. The combination of spices like white pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon melded with dried fruit, chickpeas, and peanuts is exceptional. Therefore, be sure to let the filling set long enough so that all of these flavors have the opportunity to permeate the whole mixture.
This recipe is a great one for a busy week, since you can make the mixture ahead of time and just steam the chard leaves and heat the filling when you are ready to eat it.
Moroccan Chard Wraps with Apricot and Chickpeas
4-6 whole chard leaves (about 1 bunch), stems separated and chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp white pepper*
1 1/2 c chickpeas (garbanzo beans)**
1/2 c dried apricots, chopped
1 handful golden raisins
Sprinkle of currants
1/2 c chopped peanuts
1 c cooked whole-wheat couscous (short-grain brown rice is a fine substitute)
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and chopped chard stems for 4-6 minutes, until they are just tender. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and white pepper and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in chickpeas, apricots, golden raisins, currants, and couscous. Taste and add salt if necessary for your taste. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit to allow flavors to coalesce.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop chard leaves in the water and cook for 1 minute. Remove leaves from water with tongs and drop into ice water to halt cooking. Drain leaves and thoroughly pat dry.
Place 1 chard leaf on a flat surface. Heap 1/2 c of chickpea-couscous mixture onto lower third of the leaf. Fold bottom edge of leaf over mixture, breaking rib if necessary to ease folding. Fold sides to cover mixture. Starting at the bottom edge, roll leaf lightly to encase filling completely (think like rolling a burrito). Arrange seam side down on a plate for serving. Keep in a warm oven so they are hot upon serving.
*White pepper has a different flavor than black pepper, so do not assume these ingredients are interchangeable. White pepper tends to be a bit more mellow than fresh-cracked black pepper, which can have a bite to it.
**I cook my own beans, but this amount is equivalent to a 15-oz can of chickpeas. If you do use canned, be sure to rinse and drain thoroughly prior to cooking.