Sunday, December 12, 2010

How To Roll Your Own...Stuffed Grape Leaves

Back in the day, I used to love to eat at Robert's Deli, a Lebanese joint on 9th South and about 1050 East, in the building that now houses a flyfishing equipment store (?!). When they closed, what I found myself craving and unable to find anywhere else in Salt Lake was the vegetarian stuffed grape leaves. Eventually I checked out just about every Lebanese cookbook at the main library trying to duplicate them, and I think I did it - or at least my memory has faded enough that I'm okay with the result!

Liz' Lebanese-Style Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves

The Ingredients:

1 32-oz. jar grape leaves, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, minced
2 tblspn. olive oil
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 1/4 c. short or medium-grain white rice
1 1/2 c. water
3.5 oz. sundried tomatoes, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water (reserve liquid, use as part of water called for above)
1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon

The Instructions:

1. Put minced onion and olive oil in a microwave-safe dish, cover with lid and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Remove from microwave and add spices, tomato paste, rice and water. Stir well.

3. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes. While cooking, mince sundried tomatoes.

4. Add minced tomatoes to rice mixture, stir well. You are now ready to stuff the leaves...

5. Line a pot with scrawny, torn reject leaves...

6. Pack in the stuffed leaf rolls. You want them to be snug. If you leave them too much room, the rice inside will expand, take on too much water, and be soggy-ish. You don't want that!

7. Weight down the leaves with a plate or lid, and a heat-resistant mug. Slowly add water to barely cover the rolled leaves.

8. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and gently continue boiling until nearly all of the water is absorbed. This should take about 40 minutes.

9. Put in a covered dish to cool. This will help "even out" the moisture levels - some rolls will be drier than others. Really, it is best to let them sit overnight in the fridge this way, but I rarely manage to plan that far ahead!

10. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm, with Lemon-Cucumber Sauce (see  recipe below).

Lemon-Cucumber Sauce:
1 cup plain soy yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into large chunks
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic, pressed

Put everything but the yogurt into a food processor and puree until mostly smooth, then stir into yogurt. (In a pinch, put it all in the blender, including the yogurt.) Let sit at least an hour before serving to let the flavors meld. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


  1. These were divine! It was my first time eating grape leaves, and I was wary, but I knew you wouldn't bring something unless it was awesome.

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