Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Ever since Sean came home with some leftover stuffed grape leaves from a Greek restaurant, I had been craving more of them.  The marinated grape leaves are soft but sturdy enough to hold the filling- a lemony rice and fresh herb mixture.  Once they are rolled up into little packages, you simmer them in chicken broth for an hour.  They can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.  This dish does take some time and effort during the rolling process, but the grape leaves are so tasty in the end it is well worth it.  They are great as a snack, side dish, or party food!  We found the grape leaves at our local grocery store (nothing fancy) in a jar in the olive section.

20-30 large marinated grape leaves (you may need to discard some of the leaves that are torn or too small to wrap the rice)
1 small onion (or half of a large onion) finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 1/2 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
Juice of one lemon
1 t lemon zest
2 T chopped fresh dill
2 T chopped fresh mint
4 cups chicken broth (for simmering the stuffed grape leaves)
In a sauce pan over medium, heat the oil and add the onion with 1/2 t salt.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to saute for 3 minutes longer.  Next, add the rice and mix it into the onion mixture, toasting for a couple minutes.  Mix in the herbs.  Pour in the 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and the additional salt.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir until well combined.  Taste for more salt and add the some freshly ground black pepper.

Remove the grape leaves from the jar and select the largest ones with the least amount of tears.   Lay one flat and place about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rice mixture in the center.  Fold the edges over, like you are wrapping a burrito and line a wide bottomed pot or pan with the rolls, seam side down.

Slowly pour in the remaining chicken broth until the grape leaves are barely covered.  You may not need the entire four cups depending on how shallow your grape leaves sit in the pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, covered.  Once the grape leaves are simmering, turn the heat to low and continue to simmer for about one hour.  This takes all of the toughness out of the grape leaves and melds the flavors together.
Carefully remove the grape leaves from the pot to serve.  They are best warm or room temperature, but can also be served cold.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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