Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
I was so excited for this month's Daring Kitchen challenge! When I was a kid, I remember my Stepmom used to spend hours making, rolling and cooking our family's version of stuffed grape leaves. My Grandfather called it "Euprika" (and I have no idea how to spell it... this is only a guess). I would get sooooo excited when I found out that we were having euprika for dinner!! And as you can probably imagine, getting a teenager to eat grape leaves is no easy feat - nevermind getting a teenager to LOVE it. She would make what seemed like millions of these delicious parcels of goodness and freeze them in batches for dinners later in the year. After finally making them myself (which took me 2 days, mind you), I appreciate all her hard work so so so much more. I also now realize why we only got this "treat" a few times a year :)
Now, because I can never leave good enough alone, I of course changed up some of the ingredients. Overall, I thought it was an improvement and each bite had a nice hint of nostalgia.
1/2 lb ground lamb (thank god for Sulmona Meat Mkt!!)
1 1/2 C brown rice, cooked
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 C chopped tomatoes (I used some CSA tomatoes I oven-dried & packed in EVOO)
2 tbsps chopped kalamata olives
2 tbsps toasted pine nuts
1 tbsps chopped herbs (I used mint & basil from my garden, parsley would be good too)
3 oz crumbled feta
1 large jar of tomato juice (I used low-sodium)
Step 1) In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients (except the grape leaves and tomato juice). Use your hands to really knead the filling so that it becomes a nice homogeneous mixture.
Step 2) Open a grape leaf with the veins facing up. Place an oval-shaped mound of filling near the stem-side of the leaf, like so:
Step 3) Roll the bottom (stem side) up over the filling, tuck the 2 lateral sides over, and continue rolling to the top of the leaf... burrito-style.
Step 4) Continue this until you are out of filling and have consumed about 2 glasses of wine.
Step 5) For me, this was Day #2... it was already 9pm by the time I got done rolling all the leaves on Day #1 so I just packed them in a storage container and stuck them in the fridge.
Tightly place all of the rolls into the bottom of a pot, then cover them with the tomato juice. Place a plate over them inside the pot so that they don't unravel and/or float around in the juice.
|I know this is a terrible picture... just wanted to give you and idea what it looks like|
Step 6) Let them simmer over low heat for approximately 3 hours.
I served these with a salad, pita, and some homemade hummus. They would probably be pretty good over orzo as well. So good, even Boyfriend liked them, and he was pretty hesitant when I brought up the whole "we're having grape leaves for dinner" conversation.