I usually start thinking about my next meal before I've finished the current meal in front of me. Sometimes I start day dreaming about meals days or weeks ahead of time. If you're reading this, I am guessing you do the same.
This past weekend I visited one of my closest friends from college, Michal, in Switzerland. Michal and I both think about food and talk about food a lot. I knew this trip would involve some pretty great meals. And don't let those mountains in the background fool you, there was no physical activity happening on this trip ...... we didn't want anything to get in the way of our eating.
Before my trip, I was already thinking about the food I would eat while I was there, and what I would bring with me to eat on the plane. As you might remember, I have been trying to make food for my flights, especially the longer ones. Since I don't really enjoy flying, I like to make food that will make me happy. Looking forward to a good meal is one way to take my mind off of take-offs and bumpy rides.
Dumplings make me happy. I just love a good dumpling. I get excited when I see a dumpling, and even more excited when I eat a dumpling.
Before I made my first dumpling, I have to admit, I was intimidated (and maybe just a little lazy) to take on the task. Leave it to the experts, I thought. But let me tell you, once you start making your own dumplings, you'll never stop. It is so much easier that you would think, and this way you can come up with crazy concoctions that you would not be able to order from take out.
I bet you wouldn't find swiss chard dumplings at your local chinese food delivery place.
I love the idea of stuffing what is fresh and seasonal into a dumpling. Last fall I made some pumpkin dumplings, maybe this spring I will do some sort of pea dumpling. Right now there has been some stunning swiss chard in the markets, so I thought a fantastic dumpling combination would be swiss chard and roasted garlic, because swiss chard and roasted garlic go so well together.
The walnut miso was inspired by my favorite cookbook of the moment: Japanese Farm Foods. That book is such an awesome source of inspiration, I am sure you will be seeing more recipes + influences from that book here.
swiss chard dumplings with a walnut sesame miso
about 12 dumplings
1 ear of garlic
a couple tablespoons of olive oil
salt + pepper
about 6 cups of swiss chard, stem remove and chopped
around 12-15 dumpling wrappers (double that if you want to make more of a ravioli)
for the walnut sesame miso:
1/3 cup of walnuts
1 tablespoon of red miso (barley miso)
1 tablespoon of brown rice vinegar
a couple tablespoons of water
1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Start by roasting the garlic
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
- Slice off the top of the garlic (the side without the brown stem).
- Place in either a ceramic garlic roaster or warp in tin foil top side up. Then drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the garlic and season lightly with salt + pepper.
- Place in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the garlic is soft.
While the garlic is roasting, sautée the swiss chard + make the miso sauce
- In a cast iron pan oven medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then add the swiss chard. Sautée for about 7-10 minutes until the swiss chard is wilted. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and place in a separate bowl until the garlic is done roasting.
- Then, prepare the walnut sesame miso. Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until you have a fine consistency. Then add in the miso and the vinegar and pulse a few more times. Slowly add in the water until you have achieved your desired consistency. I like it to be more on the thick side but if you would like it to be more liquid enough so that you can drizzle them over the dumplings, just add more water. Remove and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. (Clean the food processor now because you are going to use it again to make the filling for the dumplings)
When the garlic is done roasting, prepare the filling
- Place the cooked swiss chard in the food processor along with 2-3 cloves of the roasted garlic. (You will have several remaining garlic cloves, which will keep for around a week and you can use them by tossing them in with some vegetables, or spreading them on some toast, or in a dressing. Of course, you can also just eating them on their own).
- Pulse a few times and taste. You may want to add some more salt and pepper or another roasted garlic clove or two, but do not add too much salt because the miso sauce is naturally on the salty side.
- When you are done, place the filling in a small bowl.
Make the dumplings
- Start by preparing your work station. You will want to prepare the dumplings on a clean, flat surface. A cutting board, plate, or counter top will work well for this. Place 10-15 wrappers in a bowl with a wet towel covering it. Then, have your filling and a small spoon nearby. Have a small bowl of water handy (which will be used to seal the dumplings), as well as a plate to place the prepared dumplings on.
- Lay the dumpling wrapper on the flat surface. Place a small spoonful of the swiss chard filling in the center of the wrapper (it make take you one or two tries to get the size/amount just right).
- Then, using your finger, wet the outer edges of the dumpling and fold them in half pressing firmly to ensure that they are sealed.
- Work your way around the edges folding down the corners down and crimping + pleating the tops using your fingers.
- Continue this process until you have finished the filling.
- **A quick couple of notes: If you find that your dumpling wrappers are too thin, you can double them up and roll them together with a rolling pin until they stick. If you are finding that your dumplings do not look so pretty, don't fret, you can just place another square on top and make them into more of a ravioli shape. That is the more fool-proof way to do this.
Then, fry and steam the dumplings
- Heat up a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add all of the dumplings (folded edge up) to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the bottoms have browned. Then add 1/4 cup of water to the pan (you want it to cover the bottom), cover and steam for 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the rest of the water to evaporate.
- Remove from the pan and serve immediately.
How to serve: since the miso sauce is on the thicker side, I like to swirl a little on a plate and then place the dumplings on top.