Patience Dock: A Unique and Versatile Spring Green
In our Romanian cuisine, patience dock has a special place for the spring meals. This herb grows wild on the field, near the forrest, and also along the rivers. It spreads everywhere and it's very easy to find, which is why people have been using it in cooking from ancient times. We cook soups, casseroles, and most of all delicious stuffed rolls with the patience dock's wide leaves. For best results, I search out very wide leaves. Sellers at the market know that and they always have special bunches with wider leaves for anyone wanting it for making stuffed patience dock rolls. Others buy the narrower leaves for making a delicious meal, with tomatoes and onions, similar to spinach or for a great healthy salad. It tastes like spinach, therefore it is also called English spinach.
Patience dock's Latin name is Rumex patientia. Rumex is in the buckwheat family Polygonaceae, same as sorrel, Rumex acetosa. It is also called garden patience or monk's rhubarb. The taproot is long and hard to pull out. The stem is erect, with a basal leaves rosette and inconspicuous green flowers growing in whorls at the top of the stalk. The seeds are achenes type, each seed having the appearance of a 3-sided achene. Among the Rumex species is also Rumex crispus or yellow dock, which grows wild on the wastelands and spreads everywhere because of its numerous seeds. Lots of yellow dock is growing near my house and I even found one in my garden this spring. The leaves of most Rumex species contain oxalic acid and tannin. Oxalic acid can be dangerous to human kidneys if consumed in large quantities. That's why the leaves must be dipped into boiling water for a few seconds before cooking, so the oxalic acid will leach out of the leaves. Patience dock can be used in treating dermatological, hepatic and hematological dissorder. Also, an extract from its root can be useful in treating hypotension, palpatations and cardiac neurosis or blood flow. Recent studies have proved Rumex patientia's antioxidant properties.  (See disclaimer below.) Our even if they didn't know much about the scientific names and properties back then. After researching for this article, I have figured out why I had to keep the patience dock leaves in boiling water for a few seconds, before using them for making the stuffed rolls. I've always thought it was for making the leaves tender, especially the thick vein in the middle of the broad leaves. Now I understand it was for both purposes and I am so thankfull to my mom and grandmom, also to my good old neighbor, who taught me how to cook.
Stuffed vegetable rolls are an important part of our cuisine and we all love "sarmale," as we call it here in Romania. In another article I showed how I cook the stuffed sauerkraut rolls with ground pork, which is especially good as a winter recipe, cooked mostly for Christmas. But since it's such a delicious meal, we cook it every season, using whatever vegetable leaves we have, such as raw cabbage, spinach, lime leaves, grape vine leaves and, the most delicious, patience dock leaves.
The recipe is traditional for our Easter and it's very easy to cook.
Stuffed Patience Dock rolls with lamb
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, in a pan
- a few bunches of Patience Dock young fresh leaves for 30 rolls, well washed
- 1 pound lamb meat, ground
- 2-3 tablespoons rice, washed
- 1 onion, chopped
- dill, chopped
- 3-4 full tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
- salt, about 1 teaspoon
Cook lamb ground meat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, rice and chopped onion, on low heat. Stir until the meat isn't red anymore, then add 1/4 glass water. Turn off the stove and add the chopped dill and salt, as to your taste. Stir well. Fill a 3 quarts pot with water and bring to boil. In the meantime take each leaf and wash well. Put aside the narrow ones, appart from the broad ones. Take a bunch of leaves and dip them into the boiling water for a 2-3 seconds, holding them by the stalks, then quickly take them out and lay it on a pan, keeping the narrow ones appart.
Take a 3-quart short pot and cover the bottom with a few of the narrow leaves after cutting back the stalks and part of the thick vein along the leaf. This can be easily done by folding the leaf so the vein can remain outside. Use a sharp knife and be careful not to cut too close to the leaf.
After covering the bottom of your pan, start making the rolls. Prepare the leaf as above, then add a tablespoon of meat mixture and fold as in the pictures.
Lay the rolls in the pan. If you need to start another "floor" lay a few of the narrow leaves over the first "floor" then start adding rolls. Cover with narrow leaves and all other remaining leaves. Pour a cup of water over the rolls. Bring to boil on medium heat on the stove. Preheat the oven at 400F.
Make a sauce with tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, lemon juice or vinegar and 1 quart water and pour it carefully in the pan. When the sauce starts boiling, put the pan in the oven at 370F for half an hour. It's important not to boil the rolls too fast because the leaves are tender and can break easily.Take the pot out when ready. Serve with sour cream on top.
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumex
 - http://tryonfarm.org/share/book/export/html/501
 - http://www.liveandfeel.com/medicinalplants/patience_dock.html
 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17517459
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article should not be considered medical advice. As always, consult with a healthcare provider before consuming any medicinal herb or plant to determine its efficacy and safety.