With a dear friend who is a picky eater AND vegan, I am always trying to find new recipes to tempt her palate. One day reading recipes about stuffed chard rolls and a few Mediterranian dishes, I came up with the idea for a spiced wild rice stuffing with a tangy marinated tofu to tempt her palate. She said to "put it in the rotation", so to me that's high marks, and I do the happy dance. It's a versatile stuffing with interesting spice combinations and tang from marinated tofu and kalamata olives, and then a surprising crunch added in from salty pistachios. I hope you enjoy this!
1Prepare Marinated Tofu: Squeeze water from tofu. I put mine in a towel and put a cast iron pan on it for about a half hour. Whisk all of the marinade ingredients other than the tofu in a bowl and set aside. Cut the block of tofu lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices, then stack them up and turn the other way and cut those slabs into 1/4 inch slices. You end up with long 1/4 inch tofu sticks. Crumble the tofu sticks into the bowl, stir well and refrigerate for a few hours. You can also do this in the morning or even a day or two ahead. The crumbles are also good over a salad once they are marinated.
2Prep Rice: Boil the rice according to package directions. I use an organic wild rice medley that has brown rice mixed with wild rice. Be sure to boil it in well salted water.
3Prep Lentils: I buy a vacuum package of pre-cooked brown lentils from the store (not canned), but you can cook your own if you want. I do NOT recommend canned lentils as they would be too mushy. If you make your own, follow package directions and be careful not to overcook because they still need to go into the oven.
4Assemble Stuffing in a large bowl: drain tofu liquid and gently squeeze out some of the excess liquid, toss into a large bowl, and add the lentils, pistachios, onions, garlic, carrot, lemon juice and zest (best to use organic lemons when using zest to avoid pesticides) and toss together in the bowl with the spices. Toss well to distribute the spices evenly through the mix. I take this step before adding the rice so that the spices will more evenly distribute rather than sticking to rice in uneven clumps. When well mixed add the rice in and stir well. (Side note: this makes more stuffing than you will need if doing cabbage or Swiss Chard Rolls, but I think it leaves "just enough" to stuff a couple of bell peppers on another day, a happy thing you may agree when you taste the delicious flavors of this stuffing).
5Prepare Leaves: Shock chard or cabbage pieces in a pot of boiling water until just barely wilted/softened and then remove immediately to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then move to a colander and let it drain well.
6Prepare Rolls: lay out the chard or cabbage pieces one at a time on a plate, and take about 1/4 cup of the filling into your hand and pack it together (as best it will hold together), and then lay it on the cabbage at the fattest end and roll it up into a log. After you make the first turn over the filling, tuck the two ends over to seal the ends and then finish rolling. Place in an 8x12 baking dish. Keep rolling the chard logs and adding to the dish, snugging one up against the other. I wound up with two rows of rolls from one end of the pan to another. (Note, you actually have several options at this stage and can also use this stuffing in a blanched swiss chard and make chard rolls, or stuff into a yellow or red bell pepper. I did my photo one in swiss chard, but a milder and more neutral flavor of cabbage would show off the flavor or the stuffing more, and peppers ... those are always good, but I recommend staying away from green peppers as I think it might overpower the spice combinations in the stuffing).
7When the pan is full, pour sauce over the rolls. You can either make your own favorite red sauce or use a jar of commercial tomato basil spaghetti sauce and cover the rolls with sauce. You can easily prepare this early in the day and stop at this step if you want and wait to put it in the oven later in the day, or even the next day.