Swiss Chard Wrapped Soutzoukakia. Gluten, Grain, and Dairy Free.
Have you ever had Soutzoukakia? Bonus points if you pronounced that correctly. For everyone else, it’s pronounced soo-tzoo-KAH-kyah. Soutzoukakia is a braised Greek meatball, shaped longer and thicker like an egg and baked in a wine drenched tomato sauce. My Yiayia was known for cooking an entire bottle of red wine in hers. The meat is seasoned with traditional Greek flavors such as mint and cinnamon and is most often served over rice.
I’m always looking for ways to use less tomatoes as they are in the nightshade family, so I came up with a baked version of soutzoukakia that to me is just as satisfying as its traditional counterpart. Instead of serving these chubby little meat rolls with rice, I used Swiss chard wraps. I’m not even sure I can call these Soutzoukakia anymore, but when my husband comes home and sees them in the oven he does a happy dance and loudly proclaims, “Soutzoukakia for dinner!” Not only does my husband enjoy them, but I served a version of this to some house guests a while back and they were a big hit.
It’s amazing what your mind will think up when you can’t have something (and all the gluten free people said, Amen!). For example, I have yet to find or create a satisfying and nourishing pita bread (one day I will though). Sure, I’ve used a cabbage leaf or collard leaf and the not so pleasant brown rice wraps (a.k.a. brown rice shrapnel once you try rolling them!), but this time I wanted something more savory and tender.
A few years back, I decided to try blanching Swiss chard leaves for wraps and it’s become a staple in my fridge and cooking ever since. Currently, I blanch a bunch of Swiss chard leaves, collard leaves, or kale in salted boiling water. After cooking a few minutes I submerge the leaves in an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep them vibrantly green. Once cooled, I wrap the leaves in paper towels, place them in a ziplock, and store them in the fridge. Keeping these wraps blanched and ready to go in the fridge = a huge time saver on busy week nights!
Swiss chard wrapped burgers
Soutzoukakia are traditionally made using a loaf of bread as a binder, which is totally unnecessary. Moving on…simply use an egg as a binder and you will make my day. Makes 8 soutzoukakia.
1 lb ground meat (I used organic grass-fed ground bison. You could also use ground lamb or beef)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint or 1 tsp dried
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tsp teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
1 bunch blanched greens (swiss chard, kale, bok choy, cabbage) – recipe below
Additional fillings: romaine lettuce, sauerkraut, cultured carrots, onions, hot peppers, etc.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil. Mix meat and all ingredients up to olive oil well. To shape, take portions of meat about the size of an egg and form sausage like rolls 3-4 inches long and about 1½ inches thick. They’ll look like short fat hotdogs. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet and continue shaping until your meat is gone. Bake in the top rack of the oven at 425 for about 30 min, turning over half way through cooking.
To Serve: Set out a plate of the Soutzoukakia with a plate of your desired fillings along side the Swiss chard leaves (I remove their long stems as well) . Allow each person to build their own Soutzoukakia wrap with available fillings. Roll the Soutzoukakia in the Swiss chard leaves away from you while simultaneously tucking in the sides. Enjoy!
Blanched Swiss chard:
Once the Soutzoukakia are in the oven you can start your pot of water for the wraps. You could also use collard greens, cabbage leaves, or even bok choy leaves
One bunch of dark leafy greens
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash as many Swiss chard leaves as you need and chop the dry end of the stem off. Once the water is boiling, add 2 T of sea salt and all the Swiss chard leaves and boil for 3-4 minutes. Immediately plunge the leaves into a large bowl of ice cold water. Leave in ice water for 2 min then lay them flat on paper towels to dry. Use them to make Soutzoukakia wraps or store in refrigerator rolled in paper towels and placed in a Ziploc.
Note: Add any fillings to the Soutzoukakia wraps that you want. We like adding romaine lettuce, sauerkraut, cultured carrots, onions, hot peppers, homemade mayo, cucumbers, or pickles…the options are endless!
Follow Soutzoukakia recipe instructions above while replacing the herbs and spices with the ones below.
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of half a lime
½ tsp herbamare or herbed spice blend mix
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper
1 T olive oil
Now that you’ve made, eaten, or at least drooled over pictures of Soutzoukakia, I want to share with you two up coming events I’ll be attending:
This weekend April 13th, I’ll be at Nourished in Chicago. I am beyond excited to learn new tips, tricks, and techniques from gluten free all stars. Are you going? Message me if you are so we can hang out together.
I also wanted to let you know about an upcoming cultured vegetable class I’ll be teaching.
Where: Old Thyme Remedies 2475 E Nine Mile Road Suite E, Pensacola, FL 32514
When: Saturday, April 21st at 10:00
Cost: $20 or $15 each with a friend!