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Stuffed Grape Leaves

G. is for Grape Leaves.  These are one of my favorite appetizers.  They also make a great snack or side dish.  The recipe to make the stuffing is quite easy, but stuffing the grape leaves takes a bit of practice and some luck.  Try it!


For the Rice Stuffing:

  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • Warm water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (brown rice can be used too!)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

For the Leaves

  • 1 (16-ounce) jar grape leaves
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions to make the rice stuffing:

  1. Soak currants in warm water for 20 minutes; drain and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat
  3. Add pine nuts; stir and cook the pine for about 2 minutes until they are golden brown. (watch carefully so that they don’t burn!)
  4. Add onion, rice, sugar, cinnamon, and hot water
  5. Stir and cover
  6. Cook until all the water has been absorbed (about 15 to 20 minutes)
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, dill, mint and parsley
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  9. Let cool about 40 minutes before rolling grape leaves

Directions to prepare leaves

  1. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
  2. As the water is heating, trim the leaves by cutting the stems off, flush with the leaves.
  3. Trim any large, hard veins from the leaves.
  4. Place the leaves in the boiling water and let them soften for 3-5 minutes till they become pliable
  5. Drain and cover leaves with cold water
  6. Drain the leaves again and pat them dry.
  7. Take a leaf and carefully spread it on a cutting board with the shiny side down, bumpy side up
  8. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the rice stuffing near where the stem was(amt will depend on size of leaf)
  9. Fold the stem end of the leaf over the filling
  10. Fold both sides toward the middle, and then roll up into a cigar shape
  11. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to seal the roll
  12. Repeat until filling is gone. Set aside any torn leaves
  13.  Line the bottom of a large pot with the torn and unused leaves to create a bed for the stuffed grape leaves
  14. Arrange the stuffed grape rolls seam side down close together
  15. Pour the 2 cups hot water, olive oil, and lemon juice over them
  16. Heat over medium heat until the liquid begins to simmer
  17. Turn heat to low
  18. Weigh the stuffed grapes rolls down with an oven proof plate turned upside down
  19. Cover the baking dish with a lid and cook 35 to 40 minutes until the grape leaves are tender.