Stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs are a popular appetizer throughout the Greek, Turkey, Iran, and the Middle East.
Grape leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of vitamins C, E, A, K and B6, plus niacin, iron, fiber, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. One cup of grape leaves, has no fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium and sugar.
Tips: If using fresh grape leaves, pick small and tender ones. Select young medium-size leaves with a good light green color and no holes.
The only tricky part of this recipe is the stuffing-the-grape-leaves, but it becomes easy after few times. Click on the following link to get step by step instructions on how to stuff and roll grape leaves: http://greekfood.about.com/od/illustratedrecipes/ss/How-To-Stuff-And-Roll-Grape-Leaves.htm.
Thoroughly rinse the grapes leaves and then drain.
Arrange some grape leaves on the bottom of the baking dish making sure that all the surface is covered.
Sauté ground beef (skip the meat for vegetarian and vegan), onion, garlic, turmeric, salt and pepper with 2 tablespoons olive oil about 5 minutes.
Stir in the rice, yellow split peas, parsley, green onion, tarragon, dill and mix them well.
Place a tablespoon of filling in the bottom center of the leaf, just above the stem. Fold bottom of leaf over filling, fold in sides, and roll into tight cylinder.
Place the stuffed grape leaves on the prepared baking dish, seam side down.
Cover tightly with foil and press down the foil on top. Bake in preheated 350°oven for an hour and 15 minutes.
Carefully remove the stuffed grape leaves. Arrange on a platter and serve warm or cold.
- 1/2 lb ground meat (skip the meat for vegetarian and vegan)
- 1/3 cup yellow split peas
- 2/3 cup long grain rice, rinsed (for strict paleo diet use 2 cups cauliflower rice*)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup green onion, washed and finely chopped
- 1/2 tbsp dried tarragon
- 1 tbsp dried dill
- 50~60 fresh grape leaves or 1 jar (16 oz.) brined grape leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsps. olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- Salt & pepper
- Tzatziki for serving (optional)
1- If using fresh grape leaves, clean and rinse the leaves. Place them in a big shallow bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 3-5 minutes until they color turned. Drain and set aside. If using grape leaves in brine, drain brine from bottle, empty contents/leaves into large bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 10 minutes. Thoroughly rinse the grapes leaves and then drain. Set aside.
2- In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 2/3 cup of the rice, and 2 teaspoons salt. Let it boil until rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
3- Combine 2 cups of water, 1/3 cup yellow split peas and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil. Scoop out the foam on top and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
4- In a large skillet, over medium high, sauté ground beef (skip the meat for vegetarian and vegan), onion, garlic, turmeric, crushed red pepper (optional), salt and pepper with 2 tablespoons olive oil about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, yellow split peas, parsley, green onion, tarragon, dill. Mix them well and remove from heat and allow the filling to cool.
5- Arrange some grape leaves on the bottom of the baking dish making sure that all the surface is covered.
6- Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut off the stems. Place leaves shiny side down on a flat surface.
7- Working with one leaf at a time. Place a tablespoon of filling in the bottom center of the leaf, just above the stem. Fold bottom of leaf over filling, fold in sides, and roll into tight cylinder. You may need to manipulate the filling so it goes towards center of the leaf as you roll it in. Do not fold too tightly. The rice does expand during cooking and may tear the leaf. Place in the prepared dish, seam side down. Repeat, filling all the leaves, and placing them very close to each other.
8- Mix lemon juice with one cup of water and season with salt. Pour over the stuffed grape leaves, cover tightly with foil and press down the foil on top. Bake in preheated 350°oven for an hour and 10 minutes.
9- Carefully remove and arrange them on a platter. Serve warm or cold, with the tzatziki sauce on the side if you wish.
* To make cauliflower rice, cut the florets off from core of one whole cauliflower. Place florets in bowl of food processor in batches and pulse until it has a grainy rice-like consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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