When I was in high school, I worked in a Greek restaurant. I didn't particularly care for the boss there, but I loved the food! That may have been the beginning of my love for ethnic foods. So, when I spotted some wild grape vine on the property a few weeks ago, my first thought was stuffed grape leaves.
I've never made stuffed grape leaves, so I started looking for recipes. About the only constants in the recipes were grape leaves and rice. The other ingredients and the way to prepare them varied greatly. In the end I made up my own recipe.
The Stuffing 2 C leftover rice 1 lb hamburger 1 minced onion 6 cloves of garlic minced 1/2 C chopped pecans 1 handful plantain chopped (this is a wild green, you could substitute swiss chard or spinach) 2 TB lemon juice salt pepper
Brown hamburger with onion and garlic. Drain if needed. Add salt, pepper, and nuts. Cook a few more minutes. Mix with remaining ingredients. Allow to cool.
The Leaves I used wild grape leaves. I never did get a count, but I think there were about six dozen. Harvest leaves that are still a light green, but at least as big as woman's hand. Rinse them. Bring a pot of water with 1 tsp salt to boil. Add leaves and boil a few minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
I have not tried this with store bought leaves, but most of the recipes I read recommended soaking them before using to help get the salt of the brine off the leaves.
Place the leaf stem side up. Put about 1 TB of stuffing on near the stem end. Fold the sides in and roll tightly, and place in a shallow baking dish. I made three different pans, different ways. All were baked at 300 F for 50 minutes.
Pan one: Topped with about one cup leftover spaghetti sauce before baking. In my opinion, this was the best of the three for eating hot.
Pan two: Brushed with olive oil before baking. This made the leaves crispier. I didn't care for them hot, but they are good this way when eaten cold.
Pan three: Added small amount of water to the pan before baking. These were okay hot or cold, but not my favorite either way.
The kids and I ate them for lunch. Nolan (3) really enjoyed them. The others were neutral. I thought I might freeze some of the extras, but Nolan and I have been snacking on them cold this afternoon. There may be not be any left to freeze.