This springy Greek grape leaves recipe differs from traditional Greek grape leaves usually made with ground lamb. These slightly sweet ones have a beautiful flavor balance of golden raisins, white wine and feta cheese.
Making stuffed grape leaves is a project, so be sure to clear a whole afternoon. This is a great project to do with friends or kids as you can make the rice mixture ahead of time and stuff the grape leaves with room temperature filling at any time.
Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe
Makes about 30
1 16 oz. jar of grape leaves
½ cup pine nuts
2 lemons, cut into halves
4 tablespoons olive oil + a splash to toast pine nuts
2 shitake mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
15 pitted green olives, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup long grain white rice
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped dill (from one large bunch)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
Carefully remove grape leaves from jar. Soak in a large bowl of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice for at least 30 minutes to remove the briny taste.
Toast the pine nuts in a large skillet over medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Cook until just browned, about 3 minutes, then remove and set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic, onions and mushrooms together for 7-10 minutes.
Add the rice to the pan, along with another tablespoon of olive oil and use a wooden spoon to stir for 3 minutes, allowing the rice to absorb some of the oil. Add the white wine, olives, raisins, and broth and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is just cooked. Stir frequently and add more broth or water if the liquid absorbs too quickly, taste rice for doneness after 20 minutes and cook longer if needed. Remove from flame to cool slightly and pour rice into a large bowl. Add juice from 3 remaining lemon halves, 1 teaspoon salt, feta and dill, stir with a spoon.
Now you’re ready to stuff.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and have a glass or metal baking dish with a lid ready (if you don’t have a baking dish wish a lid, an oven-safe skillet with two layers of tightly-fitted tinfoil will do). Remove a grape leaf from the bowl of water and place it with the veiny side up on a clean cutting board with the leaf point furthest away from you. Use a spoon or your fingers to add a small 2-inch x 1-inch log of the rice mixture at the bottom of the leaf by the stem. Fold up the overhanging pieces at the bottom and tuck them around the rice, then fold each side of the leaf over toward the center. Then tightly roll the rice log away from you like you would a burrito. Place the stuffed leaf snuggly in the baking dish and repeat until you have used up all of the rice. You’ll likely end up with about 30 stuffed grape leaves and a few unused grape leaves. Pack them in like sardines, add ½ cup of water and a squeeze of lemon juice, cover, and bake for 35 minutes.
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Photos by Ally-Jane