Meatballs with Swiss chard Meatballs with Swiss chard Israeli Kitchen Meatballs with Swiss chard (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

Meatballs with Swiss chard

A leafy twist on the classic meatball recipe.

  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

In Israel, ground meat is served in many different ways. You'll find baked and fried pastries filled with spicy ground meat, kubbeh, which is a torpedo-shaped shell of bulgur enclosing ground beef, rice tossed with fried ground beef, and even hummus with a circle of ground beef around the rim of the plate. Meatballs are never boring, being spiced and handled with all the delicate craft that home cooks of many ethnic streams bring to the Israeli kitchen. I like this recipe because it's a little different, a little original. And the meatballs are cooked with a leafy green: Swiss chard. Serve them with rice for a complete meal, or with a crunchy salad and some good, warm bread. You'll need something to absorb the delicious sauce.


  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, washed
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried, crushed herbs: sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme – alone or in any combination
  • Juice of 1 lemon (I used 1/2 preserved lemon instead)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 small bunch scallions


Cut away the hard, white stems of the Swiss chard leaves. Reserve them.

Put the green leaves in a large pan without any added water. Cook, covered, over low heat until they wilt.

Allow the greens to cool, and chop them finely.

Into a bowl, put the meat, egg, onion, chopped Swiss chard, bread crumbs and spices.

Mix, then knead until you have a firm, well-blended mix.

Prepare a skillet with a little oil on the bottom. Fry the meatballs for 5 minutes on each side, just enough to make them hold together and to give them a good brown color. Remove the meatballs to a plate and set aside.

Dissolve the cornstarch in a little water. To the still-hot frying pan, add 1 cup white wine and stir, loosening up any bits of meat. Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir, 1 minute.

Cut the white part of the beet stems into finger-sized pieces.

In a large pan, fry the garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes and add the lemon juice. Add the meatballs, white wine/cornstarch mixture, and beet stems. Add the 1 cup water or stock, and more if needed to cover the meatballs.

Cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are done.

Uncover the pot and cook the liquid down to thicken it.

Chop the scallions and scatter them over the meatballs just before bringing them to the table.

Another note: To accompany this, I made white rice that had 1 peeled, chopped tomato, 1 bay leaf, and 2 cloves of crushed garlic in it.

Recipe adapted from Sarah Melamed at FoodBridge.

Related Topics: Meat and Poultry

Recipes from the Israeli KitchenRecipes from the Israeli Kitchen