Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Herbs, Cooked in Tomato Sauce
Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Herbs, Cooked in Tomato Sauce. Grape leaves are becoming a cottage industry for the wine trade, as grape growers and wine producers exploit the potential of their vineyards well beyond what the fruit alone provides.
- 250 gr. (1/2 lb.) fresh grape leaves, or 500-gr (1 lb.) jar of leaves packed in brine
- 1/3 cup, plus 2 Tbs. northern Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. paprik
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh fennel leaves
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 4 large, firm, ripe tomatoes
- grated Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4-5 cups water
- Strained fresh juice of 2 lemons
- Plain strained Greek yogurt (optional)
In a large heavy skillet sautΓ© the onions and scallions in a third cup of olive oil. Add the garlic and stir. Add the rice, and toss to coat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring. Add cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and one cup of water. Cover and simmer until rice is softened but not cooked completely and water absorbed. Remove and cool. Toss in the herbs and adjust seasoning.
Separate the grape leaves that are too small or too irregular to roll. Pour two tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom of a medium sauce pan and cover with a few irregular leaves over the oil.
Lay the leaves vein-side up in rows on a work surface. Snip off the tough stems. Place one teaspoon of the rice mixture in center, bottom of leaf. Fold the left and right sides over the filling and roll up, gently but tightly, from bottom to top, until a bite-sized log is formed. Place seamside down in the pot. Repeat with remaining stuffing and leaves. Pour cover with tomatoes Spread the tomatoes on top of the stuffed grape leaves, a little salt and pepper, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and enough water to cover the leaves by about 4cm (1 1/2-inches) into the pot. Place a piece of parchment paper cut to the circumference of the pot over the leaves and place a dish face-down over that to weigh the leaves and paper down. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for about 35-40 minutes, or until leaves are tender and rice is thoroughly cooked. Serve warm or cold, with strained yogurt on the side, if desired.
The perfect companion to this meatless stuffed delicacy is a fruity Grenache Rouge or a Syrah.