Recipe Corner: Stuffed Grape Leaves Casserole From Vegetarian Times


This recipe was featured in VEGETARIAN TIMES on January 2, 2012.

Armenian stuffed grape leaves (derevi sarma or yalanchi) are a Middle Eastern favorite — and widely popular as appetizers, snacks, or even as an addition on the perfect mezze platter. When it comes to preparing stuffed grape leaves, most Armenian families, chefs and restaurants have their own unique recipes. Grape leaves are a beloved dish, made flavorful with onions, rice, parsley, tomatoes, currants, pine nuts, and seasonings, including mint, dill, paprika, allspice, and lemon juice. If you like stuffed grape leaves, you’ll appreciate this simple casserole from Vegetarian Times, which has all the flavor and taste of the popular appetizers without the labor-intensive rolling. Jarred grape leaves are available in any Middle Eastern market or specialty store. (You do not need to parboil jarred grape leaves, but a quick dip in boiling water tenderizes them and removes some of their saltiness.)


30 jarred or fresh grape leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing top of casserole

1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)

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1 cup brown rice

2 cups low-sodium tomato juice or vegetable juice

1 cup chopped unsalted, hulled pistachios

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup chopped fresh mint

1 cup raisins or dried currants

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced, for garnish


Serves 8.


Dip grape leaves in large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes or a little longer. Drain, and set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté 7 to 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add the rice and 2 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in tomato juice, pistachios, parsley, mint, raisins, and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper, if desired. (Mixture will be very wet.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil. Pat grape leaves dry. Line bottom and sides of baking dish with grape leaves, allowing leaves to hang over sides. Spread half of rice mixture over grape leaves. Top rice with more grape leaves, then top with remaining rice mixture. Cover casserole with remaining grape leaves, and seal by folding over grape leaves around edges. Brush top with olive oil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until grape leaves on top darken and casserole looks firm and dry. Remove from oven.

Dip knife in cold water. Cut straight down with tip of knife to make 8 servings, then remove servings with a spatula. Garnish with lemon slices and drizzle with pomegranate molasses (if using).


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