RECIPE: Mediterranean Stuffed Grape Leaves

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For more info on using weeds, read Rebecca Gilbert: Foraging Farmer

Pick tender young leaves, growing at the end of grapevines. Leave the stems on. Wash, if necessary. To blanch, use the stems as “handles,” or use tongs to dip three to six leaves at a time into boiling water, swish once, remove, and drain. They should soften and turn olive green, but not cook. Continue until you have blanched all the leaves. Trim off the stems with scissors. The grape leaves are now ready to stuff. Or, roll the blanched, stemless leaves into loose cigars, pack a jar, cover with brine, label, and store in the fridge for up to a year. Or, roll into bundles, wrap tightly, label, and freeze.

Ingredients

3 dozen grape leaves, blanched

4 cups of any favorite rice, cooked, warm or cold (if the rice seems very dry, add ¼ to ½ cups of water)

1 cup or more of finely chopped herbs, such as plantain, sorrel, lamb’s quarters, and pigweed (or parsley, dill, and mint)

½ cup olive oil

Other traditional additions

Onion or shallot, chopped and sautéed

Lamb or venison, ground and cooked

Lemon peel, grated

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ℉. Mix the rice with herbs and any of the other traditional additions. 
  2. To stuff, place a blanched leaf face down on a flat surface, and put a small amount of filling above where the stem was. Fold up the bottom two lobes, fold in the sides and roll toward the tip of the leaf to form a finger-shaped cylinder. Generously oil a glass baking dish with olive oil (lasagna-sized approx.) and nestle your rolls tightly side by side in a single layer. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top, cover with foil, and bake in the oven (or over low coals until sizzling through and through) for about 45 minutes. They are delicious hot, or chilled on a summer afternoon, but traditionally served at room temperature. Serve with a yogurt tzatziki sauce.

Note: These Mediterranean stuffed grape leaves taste delicious dipped in a yogurt sauce. Drain Mermaid Farm yogurt slightly in a coffee filter to thicken. Mix in a little garlic, cumin, lemon juice, and salt. Drizzle with olive oil.

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Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers is a freelance writer and author of four cookbooks. “Now that I’ve learned to grow my own microgreens, my goal for 2021 is not to buy another plastic laundry or dish detergent container, thanks in part to my discovery of GoGo Refill in Portland, Maine.”

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