Swiss Chard “Cabbage” Rolls

Rainbow Swiss ChardsmSwiss Chard is a cool weather plant. Though once established, it grows well in the garden and can produce year round. Come spring, Swiss Chard will begin shooting out its large, tender, bright green leaves on thick, crisp stalks.

Chard, as it’s often called, belongs to the same family as beets and spinach with a taste that is slightly bitter (when eaten raw), a bit salty, nutty and mildly buttery when steamed. It’s packed with vitamin’s K, C and A and contains a good amount of fibre, iron and protein.

The colour of Swiss Chard leaves range from dark green to pale yellow on stems that range from ruby red to lemon yellow and cotton candy pink. The colours are so striking, chard makes a lovely addition to any garden. The seeds are often purchased in variety packs called “Rainbow Chard” that typically contain a mix of yellow, gold, ruby, pink, orange and white stemmed Chard.

In the kitchen, I use Chard like spinach and add it to soups, pastas, or curries. The stalks provide a good crunch, similar to celery, and are great when added to stir frys. Baby Chard leaves can be enjoyed fresh in salads, while adding colour and texture.

One of my favourite uses for Swiss Chard is making faux “cabbage rolls” with the leaves instead of cabbage. Since my cabbage’s aren’t ready to harvest until the fall, the Chard makes a great wrapping leaf. Simply steam the leaves as you would cabbage and cut out the stalks (saving them for another use).

Try out the the recipe below for an alternative to the traditional cabbage roll!

Swiss Chard “Cabbage” Rolls with Lentils and Quinoa

Total time 45

Makes 8 rolls

This is a complete meal full of protein, vitamins and flavour. It’s super easy to make, freezes well and even tastes better the next day! Serve the rolls with a big, crisp salad, or as is with a nice chunk of fresh bread to soak up the sauce with.


1 Tbs olive oil

1 large onion chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 28 fl. oz can of diced tomatoes (juice drained)

2 Tbs tomato paste

1/4 tsp of thyme, basil, oregano

pinch of dried chilies

1/2 cup quinoa cooked

1 19 oz can of lentils drained and washed (or 1 cup dried lentils cooked) Meat substitution option below

10 medium sized Swiss Chard leaves

Parmesan (optional)

salt and pepper


  1. In a medium saucepan or cast iron skillet, heat oil and chopped onions. Saute until onion begins to soften and turn translucent. Add garlic, spices, tomatoes and tomato paste. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cook the quinoa. When cooked, add lentils and season to taste.
  3. Take about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce and add it to the quinoa-lentil mixture, stirring gently.
  4. Take your Swiss Chard leaves and slice off stalks, set aside.
  5. Finely chop 2 of the Swiss Chard leaves and the stalks and stir them into the quinoa and lentils.
  6. Set the mixture aside.
  7. In a large pot, bring water to boil and submerge the Swiss Chard leaves for 1-2 minutes from .
  8. Remove from water and set aside.
  9. While the sauce simmers, lay out the Chard leaves. Place a heaping tablespoon of the mixture
  10. in the centre of each leaf. Fold bottom half of chard over filling, then fold in sides and roll up tightly. Transfer rolls, seam side down to a plate.
  11. Once you have finished making the rolls, place all the rolls in the sauce and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  12. Serve warm on its own, or with fresh grated parmesan (optional) and bread.

Note: If desired, substitute 1/2 lb of sauteed ground pork, lamb or beef in place of the lentils.

Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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