Guest Recipe: Grapes Leaves with Rice, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Herbs

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Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil, to taste

6 cups onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups uncooked white rice (Uncle Ben’s, for example)

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1 cup water

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sweet basil, chopped

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon black pepper

Dash cayenne, to taste

80-100 grape leaves

1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, to taste

1/2 teaspoon allspice, optional

Sliced lemons as garnish

 

Preparation:

For best results, the rice mixture should be cooked the day before and allowed to cool completely. In a large pot, sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

Add all ingredients except the parsley and grape leaves, and bring to a low boil. Stir, turn heat to low, and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Add the parsley, and stir for a few minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let cool completely.

 

Assembly:

Rinse grape leaves thoroughly and squeeze out water. Remove stem from each leaf. Lay each leaf flat dull side up. Place 1-2 teaspoons of rice mixture on the leaf, fold sides over filling, and roll leaf up.

 

Cooking:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay some unused or torn grape leaves, stems and pieces on the bottom of a large pot or casserole to protect rolled grape leaves (use cabbage, celery or lettuce leaves if there are not enough grape leaf scraps.) Arrange rolled grape leaves in the pot or casserole in as many layers as needed.

Add about 2½ cups of water over the grape leaves, place a crockery plate over the top of rolled grape leaves, and bake until water has almost absorbed, for about an hour. Check if rice is fully cooked, and remove pot or casserole from oven; let cool completely.

Refrigerate overnight for best results. Remove grape leaves from pot or casserole and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, if desired, and garnish with thin lemon slices.

Yield: Makes about 80 grape leaves.

Recipe and photo are courtesy of the late Dr. Harold H. “Buzz” Baxter from the Gutsy Gourmet, his outstanding international food website, http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/yalnchi.html

*Grape leaves may be purchased in most supermarkets and Middle Eastern stores. This recipe will keep well in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.

 

 

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