This dish is my modern twist on the quintessential Greek dish, dolmades. Instead of vine leaves, I have used another ancient Greek ingredient: kale.

The ancient Greeks loved to stuff items of food, and one of their favorites was to mash foods into a paste and wrap it in leaves or breads. I believe that kale was one of these ingredients.

I have also used quinoa instead of rice or bulgur, as is the tradition. You could use cooked brown rice or barley instead of quinoa.

Makes 10 large dolmades

For dolmades mixture:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 10 large curly Kale leaves, stems removed and washed well
  • 1/4 cup spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

For dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

For yogurt dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. Set aside and let it cool down. Transfer to a bowl. Place the kale leaves in a steamer and steam them for 5 minutes until they soften. Transfer them to a plate and allow them to cool down to room temperature. Add the remaining ingredients for the dolmades mixture to the quinoa and mix well.

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk. Add the dressing to the quinoa mixture and mix well.

Lay each kale leaf on a flat surface and spoon a generous amount of the mixture on the end where the stem begins. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling. Then roll the leaf all the way up, starting at the stem end, to form a neat parcel. When you have finished making all the dolmades, arrange them on a serving platter.

Place all the ingredients for the yogurt dipping sauce in a bowl and mix well. Place the dipping sauce on the side of the platter and serve.

Reprinted with permission from “Cooking & Eating Wisdom for Better Health” by Maria Benardis.