Saturday, November 9, 2013

Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves


1 lb of Grape Leaves (about 75-90 leaves)
2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
1 bunch of Italian parsley finely chopped (cut off stems)
1 bunch of green mint leaves finely chopped
1 bunch of green onions finely chopped
½ cup of chickpea halves, rinsed and soaked in water overnight
½ cup of rice
2 teaspoons of salt
¾ cup of olive oil
1 cup of lemon juice
1 medium size onions, sliced
1 large tomato, sliced


Grape Leaves Stuffing Preparation

In a bowl mix finely chopped tomatoes, mint, Italian parsley (with stems removed), green onions along with the chickpea halves, rice, 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of lemon juice.

Preparing the Leaves

If using canned grape leaves, get rid of water from can then soak leaves in clean hot water for 3 to 4 minutes.

Rinse leaves multiple times with fresh water to get rid of any preservatives.

If using freshly picked green grape leaves, make sure to pick the young leaves that are light in color and tender with a medium size. Wash well then boil on low heat for about 40 minutes.

Once leaves are ready, cut off their stems and stack them on a cutting board, and let’s get ready to roll!

How to Roll the Grape Leaves

Lay the leaves flat on a cutting board with the rough side facing upwards.

Add ¾ teaspoon of stuffing towards the bottom of the leaf as in the photo below.

Roll bottom of leaf over the stuffing, ⅓rd of the way

Fold right side over, ⅓rd of the way

Fold left side over, ⅓rd of the way

Then roll all the way through the end of the leaf

A good roll needs to be tight so that it doesn’t break apart during cooking. We like to make medium to small rolls, about ½ inch thick and 3 inches long.

Once rolled, stack the grape leave rolls tightly in a pot with its bottom covered with a layer of sliced onions and a layer of sliced tomatoes.

Cooking the Grape Leaves

Once you’ve finished adding the rolls, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on top, add ¾th cup of lemon juice, ½ cup of olive oil, 2 cups of water

Shake the pot sideways to let the liquids seep all the way through the bottom. The liquid should top the grape leave rolls.

Add a small (microwave-safe) plate on top and press it downwards and leave in pot while cooking. The plate creates a downward pressure on the grape leave rolls to keep them tightly held together.

Cover the pot and cook for a few minutes on high heat until the sauce boils, at which time turn the heat down to low and let simmer and cook for about 35 minutes.

Every 10 mins or so, shake and swing the pot slowly to ensure that the sauce is equally dispersed and isn’t stuck on one side.

Serving and Tips

Once cooked uncover pot and let rest for about 1 hour to cool down. During this time the grape leave rolls will absorb more sauce and enhance in flavors (optional)

Once ready to serve, empty the sauce from the pot in a separate container, then put your serving plate upside down on top of the cooking pot, and while holding them tightly together turn them over quickly so the pot is now on top and the serving plate on the bottom.

Lay serving plate on the kitchen counter and slowly lift up and remove the pot from the plate. You should now have a nice looking pile of neatly stacked grape leave rolls with the tomatoes and onions on top. You can then add a bit of its sauce on it to taste.

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