Southern-Style Dolmades & Goddess Pasta Salad

My car was dead all last week, so I got a new battery yesterday and made a massive shopping trip to stock back up on stuff that I had run out of, and for some fresh produce.  I spent almost $80, which is supposed to be my entire food budget for two weeks.  I’ll just have to be wary on my next trip or two.  Since I’m not driving very much at all these days, I guess I’m saving money on gas.


Friday night I picked up some dolmades for dinner at my favorite Greek eatery, and it inspired me to make a twist on dolmades that would use up some veggies I already had.  I was going to go super simple, but then I went on my grocery bender and souped up the recipe a little bit.  I thought I was being really inventive and original and was pretty pleased with myself, until something in the back of my mind told me that there was a very similar recipe in VCON.  So I looked it up, and sure ‘nough there is a recipe for BBQ Collard Rolls or something like that.  The directions are fairly similar, but the ingredients are totally different, so I am confident in calling it my own invention.


Southern-Style Dolmades with Tahini Sauce

Makes 12 rolls, serves 3-4.

large bunch swiss chard
1 Tbs olive oil
medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 small or 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 patty pan or crookneck squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice
15.5 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
generous grinds black pepper

1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs water, or more to desired consistency
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Pick out the 12 largest, nicest chard leaves and set the rest aside. Cut the stem from the leaves, making a V a couple inches into the leaf so that no thick stem is left. Set the stems aside. Submerge the leaves in simmering water for 5 minutes. Remove them gently with tongs, transfer to a colander and set aside to cool. Let the water cool a few minutes then discard.
2. Slice across 6 of the chard stems finely, and coarsely chop any remaining chard leaves.
3. In the same pot, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the onion for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the jalapeno, carrot, sliced chard stems and squash and sate 5-7 minutes more, until vegetables are cooked but still firm. Put a bit of water in the pot if vegetables start sticking to the bottom. Add the chopped chard greens and cook for a minute, until greens wilt. Add the rest of the ingredients (peas through pepper), mix well and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add more water if a thinner consistency is desired.


5. Form the rolls. Lay one chard leave flat with the stem facing you and blot off any excess water. Place 2-3 Tbs of the mixture on the bottom of the leaf near the V. Fold up the two bottom points of the leaf diagonally, then fold the bottom away from you, tucking the mixture tightly into the leaf. Fold in the sides, then continue to roll away from you. Press the end of the leaf gently to seal.
6. Serve with the tahini sauce.

– The sauce recipe makes enough to have a little dab of sauce with each bite. Any more, and I think the sauce overpowers the roll. Feel free to double the sauce recipe.
– Imperfect leaves (mis-shapen or with holes) can still form a nice roll if you roll it carefully.
– There will probably be filling leftover. I suggest eating it with hot sauce and a spoon.


My friend Jackie invited me to her going away potluck picnic, and she knows me well so she told me not to go crazy with the food.  I agreed to keep it simple and planned on a pasta salad and some cookies.  I ran short on time yesterday, so I only made the pasta salad but it was okay because Jackie made vegan cupcakes!

I decided on Goddess Pasta Salad from Yellow Rose Recipes because it looked amazing.  And it was.

pasta salad

Although, if a recipe calls for 2 cloves of raw garlic and your garlic pieces are gargantuan, it’s a good idea to scale back to one lest ye give everyone dragon breath.  Nobody seemed to mind too much though, everyone seemed to like it.  The only change I made to the recipe was using red bell pepper instead of the cherry tomatoes.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get down with raw tomatoes, especially the small ones that burst when you bite them.  Yuck.

All packed up for the picnic:

pasta salad

I packed a cooler for the ride because I was going to a coffee shop opening before the picnic, and a show afterwards.  It was the night of the free activities, and that suits me just fine.  Jackie asked in an accusing manner “Erin, are you toting a cooler full of booze in the car?” and I was all “noooo, it’s to keep the pasta salad cool.  But yeah, there are a few beers in there too…”.  One must be prepared.


  1. Jennifer said

    What a healthy looking load from the grocery store. I can only imagine the yummy things you will make with all this.

    Souther-style dolmades? Yum! How creative. They look gorgeous.

    And I’ll take any leftovers!

  2. Sophie said

    I’m Sophie, Key Ingredient’s Chief Blogger. We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks 🙂


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