Grape leaves are stuffed with a vegetarian mix, rolled and cooked in a tangy sauce with olive oil. This version of stuffed grape leaves (also known as yalanji) is served cold as an appetizer.
- 1 pound grape leaves
- 2 cups medium grain rice
- 22 oz petite diced tomatoes (about 3-4 tomatoes)
- 1 packed cup chopped Presley
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or lemon juice)
- 1/3 lemon juice
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Bharat (Syrian Spice Mix) (optional)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 potatoes, sliced
- Prepare grape leaves. If leaves are fresh, cut the stems and arrange on top of each other. Then, blanch in boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Wash in ice-cold water and drain. You can also then store in the freezer in one pound bags. They can keep for up to a year. If using jar-preserved grape leaves, add to boiling water for two minutes to rid from preservatives and extra salt, wash in ice-cold water and drain.
- To make the stuffing, saute the chopped onion in 1/4 olive oil. Do not let it turn yellow. Add diced tomato and cook for two minutes then add parsley and washed, drained rice. Add 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or lemon juice), 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper and mixed spice. Mix and cook for 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
- When both grape leaves and stuffing cool down, start rolling. Place one leaf on a board, smooth side down. Put one tablespoon stuffing horizontally on the leaf (see pictures below for illustration). Fold the sides and roll as a cigar. Typically, this vegetarian version of stuffed grape leaves is wider and a little looser than the ones stuffed with meat and rice. You can prepare this a day or two in advance. If there’s any leftover stuffing, you can stuff a green pepper, cabbage leaves, eggplants, zucchini or any other vegetable and add to the rest.
- Place potato slices on the bottom of a big pot and arrange stuffed grape leaves on top. Mix one teaspoon of salt in a cup of water and add some black pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 pomegranate molasses (or lemon juice) and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Add the mixture to the pot with more water just to cover the grape leaves. Place a ceramic plate over them and weigh it down with an object like a jar filled with water or a couple of other plates. This is to keep the leaves from floating around.
- Start cooking on high until they start boiling then reduce to low and let cook for an hour. Taste for doneness of grape leaves. You may need to cook more (up to an hour more). When done, drain from liquid and leave the stuffed leaves in the pot to cool completely. You can preserve the liquid for dipping for extra tanginess. When cool, arrange in a serving platter and decorate with lemon wedges and the potato slices.
- Serve cold or at room temperature. Stuffed grape leaves in olive oil are usually eaten as an appetizer along with Kibbeh, Safiha (Mini Meat Pies)and Borak Zaitoon (Olive mini pies).
makes about 70 pieces
Grape leaves & stuffing
Add the stuffing
Fold the top part
Fold the sides
Keep folding & roll
Grapes leaves in olive oil