Grape leaves provide a unique flavor, and stuffing them with some simple ingredients provides for some delicious snacks, hors d'Suvres, or (with the right compliments) even a meal!
This recipe was inspired by Tyler Florence, however I changed up the last part.
Be forewarned, this is a time consuming, labor intensive process. The result however is delicious, and well worth the effort.
Set aside half an afternoon (2-3 hours)
Step 1: You Will Need...
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1/2 cup stock
- 2 tablespoons dill leaves
- 1/4 cup parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup (additionally) stock
- 1/4 cup (additionally) extra-virgin olive oil
Step 2: Prepare the Grape Leaves
First, you have to sort through the leaves. Pick the biggest ones you can, and ones that don't have any big holes/tears in them.
You then take the best leaves, and remove the stems.
After that, blanch them (boil them for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process).
After blanching, arrange them on a plate, 'glossy' side down.
Step 3: Prepare the Stuffing (part One)
You can stuff grape leaves with just about anything. I made vegan friendly grape leaves, so I used a simple rice stuffing.
Dice the onion, and the fennel bulb, then get 1 teaspoon of lemon zest from one of the lemons.
If you don't have a zester, you can carefully scrape one of the peels of the lemons and julienne it (shown)
Saute these ingredients with the first 1/4 cup of the oil, until the onions start to become clear.
Step 4: Preparing the Stuffing (part 2)
Once the onions are clear, add the rice, and pine nuts.
Stir until they're coated in the oil, and then add 1/2 cup of the stock.
Simmer until the rice absorb the stock.
Scrape the rice into a mixing bowl, and add in the dill and parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. I like to put together my salt and pepper in a cupcake cup, and add only how much I need. This lets me control the concentration however I want.
Step 5: Stuff the Leaves.
Place one leaf glossy side down on a clean work surface.
Add a bit of the stuffing near the tip of the leaf, and fold it over.
Fold in both sides, then roll it up.
"Snug but not tight" is the rule of thumb, since the rice will expand in the cooking process.
After you've got enough to fill your cooking dish (i used a pie pan) with one layer, proceed to the next step.
Step 6: Prepare the Baking Liquid.
Juice two lemons, and add it to the remaining oil and stock.
Step 7: Bake the Grape Leaves.
Put the cooking pan in an oven preheated to 325.
Add the liquid mixture from the previous step, until the rolls are half way, or maybe three quarters immersed.
Cover with foil
Weight the foil down (i used a pizza pan)
Bake for 30 minutes, or until fork tender