Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves with Brown Rice & Cinnamon

You know how you can go to a market for 1 particular item and end up with 10 unrelated ingredients with no plan as to how to use them? I had one of those moments this week. In my local Indian Market. It is a glorious place with more spices than I could ever hope to use, bulk bins of okra, and a whole lot of naan. Enough said.

But today is not about Indian food. One of the items I walked out with with was a GIANT jar of grape leaves. I think it must have been an unconscious desire for the cool, bright flavors of Greek food. I have always loved the Mediterranean stuffed grape leaves (dolma or dolmathes) but had yet to try them myself, so this weekend I went for it.

The traditional, Greek-style dish is stuffed with long-grain white rice, parsley, onions, and sometimes meat. While I absolutely love the traidtional (meat-free, of course), I wanted to try some with brown rice to up the health factor. White rice is delicious but it doesn't have much to give you in the nutrient department.

For this recipe, I went with brown basmati rice, but any long-grain brown rice will do. You are also welcome to ignore my choice completely and go for it with the white. I understand the urge to rebel. I also went a little herb-heavy, as usual. I just can't get enough.

The process of making these is actually fairly simple. They roll up more easily than spring rolls, for instance, and stay together without a lot of fuss. The hardest part of the entire process is getting the grape leaves out of the jar, so once you get that done, you are home free.

Serve with some veggies, tzatziki, hummus, and pita chips for a healthy Greek-inspired lunch. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Dolma

2 cups cooked brown rice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
3 tablespoons golden raisins, finely chopped (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
20-25 grape leaves (jarred)
4-5 lemon slices

1. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil on medium/high. Cook onions for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cinnamon, and cook until onions are translucent and have a golden brown edge.

2. In a large bowl, mix brown rice, herbs, salt, pepper, raisins, lemon juice and onion mixture.

3. Separate grape leaves. In each leaf, place about 1-2 tablespoons of filling, depending on the size of the leaf.

Fold left and right sides over mixture, then the bottom, then roll upwards toward the top (see below). Repeat until mixture is gone.

4. Layer the bottom of a medium-large saucepan with extra grape leaves to prevent sticking. Arrange stuffed leaves closely together to keep filling in place.

Add just enough water cover about 3/4 of the leaves. Add a layer of sliced lemons. Place a 2-3 small plates (small enough to fit inside your pot) on top of the lemons to add pressure and keep heat in. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 1 - 1.5 hours.

5. Remove from pot carefully. Let cool and serve.


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  2. Sounds really tasty - am going to try this today! Finger's x-d