Mahshi selek (stuffed silverbeet recipe) is a hearty meal of rolled chard leaves filled with rice, herbs and vegetables, simmered in a lemony broth.
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Another amazing Lebanese recipe I grew up on - mahshi selek.
‘Selek’ is the Arabic word for ‘Silverbeet’ (Swiss Chard) and ‘Mahshi’ is the word for ‘stuffed’. The ‘k’ in the word selek is generally silent in the Lebanese accent.
Lebanese stuffed silverbeet can normally be made two ways; with meat or without. The version without is normally referred to as ‘bi zeit’ which translates to ‘in oil’.
This silverbeet recipe is vegan and I have reduced the amount of olive oil normally used. I personally prefer it this way, it’s just so delectable.
A quick note, this recipe is not quick. It requires several steps, however, it is not difficult, once you’ve mastered the art of rollings leaves.
So if you’re asking yourself how to cook silverbeet? And you’re new to cooking perhaps start with an easier recipe such as this stew.
😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- Absolutely delicious
- Diet friendly - vegan and gluten free
- Wholesome and hearty
✔️What You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.
Silverbeet is also known as swiss chard. When selecting silverbeet, ensure the chard leaves are big with no tears in them. Keep the stalks - to use at the bottom of the pot. See pro tips.
Rice select basmati, jasmine or long grain rice. After washing rice, soaking in warm water for 10 minutes helps them to cook better once rolled.
A general rule-of-thumb is 1 cup of rice per bunch of silverbeet. However, bunches/leaves of silverbeet vary in size, sometimes you may have excess rice and vice versa.
Tomatoes fresh and ripe tomatoes work wonderfully. Chop up tomatoes finely.
Lemon avoid using store bought lemon and juice fresh ones instead for the best sour flavour.
Parsley use this herb in its fresh form. Cut off the tough parts of the stalk and then finely chop the rest of the stalk with the leaves.
Mint can be used fresh or dried. If using fresh, do not use the stem, it’s too tough. If using dried, ensure it is ground mint.
Here’s how to make Lebanese stuffed silverbeet recipe
Chard leaves preparation
Step 1 - Cut stems off the swiss chard leaves and place some of these into the bottom of the pot which will be used to cook the rolled silverbeet.
Step 2 - In a separate pot, bring water to a boil (enough to submerge the leaves) and soften for 45 seconds in the water. Drain well by placing the soft leaves into a colander.
For the bigger leaves, trace out the end of the center vein of the leaves (if they are not malleable, I recommend you watch the video) and place these (stalks) into the bottom of the pot which will be used to cook the rolled silverbeet.
Cut silverbeet leaves into 3 or 5 sections, roughly about 10cm (approx 4") long. See video. The tip section of the leaves can usually be left intact with the vein.
Step 3 - Wash and pre-soak rice in warm water for 10 minutes. Finely chop up all filling tomatoes, onions and herbs.
Step 4 - Drain rice well and combine all filling ingredients together. Should look similar to tabouli.
Lemon Dressing Preparation
Step 5 - In a mixing cup/bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Rolling silverbeet leaves
Step 6 - Place one section of silverbeet leaf flat with the inner side facing up and place a line of filling just off centre (approx 1-3 tbsp). Fold sides and roll up.
Gently squeeze out excess juice from the roll into the cooking pot and then place the silverbeet roll into it, seam face down.
Once one layer of rolls is placed into the pot, pour in some of the lemon dressing over the layer. Repeat until all is rolled up. See video and pro tips.
Step 7 - If there are any baby silverbeet leaves, place this on top and then place a heavy plate onto the top layer.
Pour over the juice from the rice (about 1 cup), until the water line is just in line with the bottom of the plate when you press on the plate.
Over high heat, bring to a slight boil (approx. 5 -7 minutes) and immediately turn heat to low.
Cook until water is reduced to the base layer of stalks. Approx. 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes with lid on and then serve warm with fresh spring onion (scallion) or your favourite salad.
For extra protein add cooked split chickpeas (garbanzo beans) into the rice mixture. As my family's recipe of mahshi selek doesn’t normally include this I have kept this recipe as is.
Time - making stuffed chard leaves is not a quick recipe, it is best to set aside a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon.
Veins & off-cut leaves - placing these into the bottom of the pot ensures the silverbeet rolls do not burn. These are delicious and soft once everything has cooked through.
Baby chard leaves - these can be placed on top of the rolls before the plate is placed on top.
Veins are best traced out through the leaf section rather than the stalk. See video.
Stalk - save the extra stalks for soups or other recipes if there are too many for the bottom layer. Once cut, store them with lemon to avoid them turning brown.
Smaller chard leaves normally have a smaller vein which is malleable, these veins can be rolled once softened, as per the photos.
Softening chard leaves helps to roll them, once softened stack them neatly into a colander. Throwing them into a colander will increase the chances of them ripping.
Tears in leaves can sometimes be present, use smaller pieces of chard leaves to mend by placing these onto the tears and then placing filling on top.
Stuffing should not be overfilled. Use only enough (1-3 tbsp) The rice will swell once cooked.
Squeezing rolls as they are being placed into the pot helps them to stay together and not loosen up. The juice in the pot also adds flavor.
Bring the pot to a soft boil - it is crucial that the pot is not brought to a hard boil, as this could loosen the rolls.
Let the pot stand for 10 minutes - helps the rolls to hold together firm
This is normally due to too much water being added to the pot. Silverbeet leaves are tender and cook quickly. The water is there mostly to help the rice cook and should be filled just above the top layer in line with the bottom of the plate which is covering the contents of the pot.
Another reason was the silverbeet leaves contained too many holes or were not rolled up securely.
The other reason could be the pot was boiled for too long and the heat was not reduced earlier.
Yes, the same steps can be applied to stuffing rainbow swiss chard leaves.
If you love this recipe, you'll also love stuffed Lebanese grape leaves called warak enab.
You might also like my quinoa taboula.
Did you enjoy learning how to cook silverbeet and make this (mahshi selek) stuffed silverbeet recipe? I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment below and give me a rating. This will help me sustain Plant Based Folk.
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Silverbeet Rolls (Mahshi Selek bi Zeit)
- 3 bunches Silverbeet
- 3 cups Basmati rice soaked for 10 minutes and then drained.
- 5 medium Tomato finely diced
- 1½ medium Brown onion finely diced
- 3 tablespoon Mint dry or fresh (if using fresh, finely chopped)
- 3 cups Parsley finely chopped
- 3½ tablespoon Olive oil
- 1½ tablespoon Salt or to taste
- 3 teaspoon Black pepper cracked, or to taste
- 3 litres Water for softening the chard leaves
Silverbeet leaves preparation
- Cut stems off the leaves. Trace out the center vein of the leaves and place these veins into the bottom of the pot which will be used to cook the rolled silverbeet.
- In a separate pot, bring water to a boil (enough to submerge the leaves) and soften for 90 seconds in the water. Drain well by placing the soften leaves into a colander.
- Wash and pre-soak rice in warm water for 10 minutes. Finely chop up all filling vegetables and herbs.
- Drain rice well and combine all filling ingredients together.
Lemon Dressing Preparation
- In a mixing cup/bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Rolling silverbeet leaves
- Cut silverbeet leaves into 3 or 5 sections, roughly about 10cm (approx 4") long. Place one section of leaf flat and place a line of filling just off centre. Fold sides and roll up. Gently squeeze out excess juice from the roll into the cooking pot and then place the silverbeet roll into it, seam face down. Once one layer of rolls is placed into the pot, pour in some of the lemon dressing over the layer. Repeat until all is rolled up. See video and pro tips.
- If there are any baby silverbeet leaves, place this on top and then place a heavy plate onto the top layer. Pour over approx. 1 cup of juice from the rice**, until the water line is just in line with the bottom of the plate when you press on the plate. Over high heat, bring to a slight boil (approx. 5 -7 minutes) and immediately turn heat to low. Cook until water is reduced to the base layer of stalks. Approx. 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes with lid on and then serve warm.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.