How To Roll Turkish 'Sarma' With Meat Filling Using Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables

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    Step 1: Place A Blanched Leaf Shiny Side Down On Your Cutting Surface

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    First, place a blanched leaf of Swiss chard or collard greens shiny side down, veiny side up on your cutting board or plate. This will ensure your finished 'sarma' will look as beautiful as it tastes.

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    Step 2: Gently Cut Out The Thick Stem From The Center

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Using a sharp paring knife, cut along the edges of the stem on both sides very gently. Remove the stem being careful not to tear or damage the leafy portions on each side. Your leaf should look like this.
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    Step 3: Cut Your Leaf Into Three Pieces

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Now, take your paring knife and carefully cut your leaf into three pieces. One triangular-shaped piece from the tip, and two side pieces. If the side pieces seem much larger than the tip, you can divide each one into two pieces to make a total of five pieces.
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    Step 4: Place Your Meat Filling At The Center Bottom

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Make your first "sarma" with the triangular-shaped leaf tip as this is easiest to roll. Pinch off a piece of your meat filling about the size of a peanut in it's shell. Adjust the size according to your leaf size. Place it in an oblong shape at the center bottom of your leaf piece.
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    Step 5: Fold Both Sides Of The Leaf Over The Filling

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Using the tips of your fingers, gently fold both sides of the leaf over the filling. This will ensure they will be no openings at the ends while the "sarma" cooks.
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    Step 6: Begin Rolling Up The Sarma Gently With Your Fingertips

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Now, begin rolling the "sarma" gently with your fingertips. Make sure the ends always stay tucked in while you roll.
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    Step 6: This Is How Your Roll Should Look Half-way Through

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Here is what your "sarma" should look like halfway through the rolling process.
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    Step 7: Roll All The Way Up To The End

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Continue rolling your "sarma" gently, all the way to the end. Notice how the ends stay perfectly tucked in. The end should be on the bottom when you're finished.
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    Step 7: This Is What Your Finished Rolls Should Look Like

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Your finished rolls should be neat, and nearly the same size. This will take a little practice.

    Don't worry if your first batch is all different sizes. It will still taste great.

    You have to expirement with the size of the leaf pieces and the amount of filling you place in each leaf to get a perfect, uniform size.

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    Step 8: Place Your "Sarma" In A Covered Pot

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013
    Place your "sarma" next to one another in your cooking pot. As you roll them, place them directly in the pan. Place them close together and in the same direction.
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    Step 9: Line The Entire Bottom With "Sarma"

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Continue making your "sarma" rolls until the entire bottom of the pan is covered. Make sure the rolls are close enough together touch, but not too tightly packed. Continue making a second layer.

    Once all your leaves and filling are finished, your "sarma" are ready to cook. If you have leftover filling, you can freeze it for the next time.

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    Step 10: Cook Your "Sarma" For This Mouth-Watering Result

    Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Once your pan is full of perfectly-wrapped "sarma," follow the directions in this recipe for cooking and serving them.

    Turkish Green, Leafy Vegetables Stuffed With Meat Are Called "Etli Sarma"

    In this recipe, you can use Swiss chard, collard greens or any other dark, leafy green vegetable with large, flat leaves. Don't attempt to use spinach leaves. They are too small, thin and wrinkly.

    To learn all about Turkish stuffed and wrapped vegetables and leaves, read All Things Stuffed and Wrapped -- A Tribute to the "Dolma" and "Sarma".