20 large swiss chard leaves
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice, such as Sushi rice (or Turkish or Egyptian or Italian)
3 cups Italian parsley, chopped very fine (stems discarded)
1 1/2 cups fresh mint
3 cups tomatoes, chopped in fine dice
1 cup onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon red Aleppo pepper or hot paprika (optional)
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or more, as needed)
1/2 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dash of allspice and cinnamon
tomato peel and extra mint leaves for garnish
Using a sharp knife, deftly remove the thick chard stalks, putting them aside to use later for the stalks salad.
Drop the chard leaves in rapidly boiling water for a few seconds. Remove from the water and dry on towels on a flat surface.
Fill a pot with salted water (about 4 cups) and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, drop the rice in the water and cook for 10 minutes or until it is halfway cooked, tender but still firm to the bite. Remove and drain well.
Sprinkle the spices on the chopped onion and mix well. Add the rice to the onion and all the other ingredients.
Take a pan measuring about 9"x3" and cover with foil. Lay the swiss chard leaves at the bottom of the pan, about 1/3 of them, making sure the leaves are hanging out (to use at the end to fold them over the stuffing).
Place 1/3 of the stuffing mixture on top of the chard leaves. Cover with a few chard leaves.
Place 1/2 of the remaining stuffing over the leaves. Cover with the remaining leaves.
Place the remaining stuffing and cover with the leaves hanging on the sides. Pour a small cup of water on top.
Cover the pan with foil and bake in a 325F preheated oven for about one hour.
Remove and cool on the counter and then store in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: This swiss chard cake will keep for one week refrigerated.