Doughnuts and Vegetables: An Unlikely Romance — Editor’s Pick

by in Recipes, October 26th, 2011

goat cheese, lentil and brown rice rolls
Food Network’s senior culinary editor, Liz Tarpy, picks her favorite recipe for October.

I went to my local garden center this weekend to buy lily of the valley bulbs. Instead, I walked out with a half dozen apple cider doughnuts. I couldn’t resist the colorful display of pumpkins and gourds, bunches of dried corn, gallons of cider and bags of these cakey doughnuts (or “fat pills,” as a former boss once called them). Normally, doughnuts don’t appeal to me. But with the colors and smells of fall all around, buying the doughnuts (and supporting the local farm to boot) just seemed like the right thing to do.

It’s OK to have treats now and again, I reasoned, as long as they are balanced with more healthy choices. I can have my cake, and my vegetables, too.

When Giada’s Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls recipe crossed my desk a few weeks ago, I mentally filed it under the “healthy, but still looks tasty” category (as we know, the two worlds don’t always converge in a delicious way; think baked chicken breasts with steamed broccoli). My doughnut indulgence was the perfect excuse for me to put down the fat pill and get cooking.

Chard is a favorite veggie of mine and I welcome its use as a wrapper (a healthy departure from my usual saute-with-bacon method). The filling of spicy arugula, brown rice, hearty lentils and creamy goat cheese could be a meal in itself. It’s a recipe that welcomes autumn.

Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Butter, for greasing the baking dish
6 large Swiss chard leaves (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Salt

Filling:
2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice
1 packed cup baby arugula leaves, chopped
1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature (8 ounces)
1 cup cooked green lentils
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 26-ounce jar marinara or tomato-basil sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil, or unsalted butter diced into 1/4-inch pieces

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Remove the thick stem from the center of each chard leaf. Cut each leaf in half lengthwise. Trim the ends from the leaves to make each leaf-half about 7 inches long and 5 inches wide. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the chard leaves and cook for 10 seconds. Remove the leaves and rinse with cold water. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the brown rice, arugula, goat cheese, lentils, mint, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and garlic. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Spoon 1/3 cup of the filling onto the end of each chard leaf and roll up like a jelly roll.

Spoon 1 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, in a single layer on top of the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil or dot the top with butter, if using, and bake until the cheese begins to brown and the rolls are heated through, about 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

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