This dish is classic, and wonderful served warm or cool, making it perfect for party fare. Most recipes call for boiling the rice with other ingredients to flavor it, but I prefer to cook the rice first and add the flavors later for greater effect. To enhance the rice filling add tangy feta, crunchy pine nuts, and a bunch of spices and let them work their magic. Before working with the grape leaves, make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove excess vinegar flavors. Leftovers are great in a Greek salad.
MAKES 32 LEAVES
WASH GRAPE LEAVES
1 jar grape leaves (16 oz)
Gently remove the leaves from jar and thoroughly rinse each one. Let drain in a colander covered in a damp paper towel while you make the filling.
START THE FILLING
2 TB olive oil
1 med red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 CUP Amira Organic Basmati Rice, uncooked
2 CUPS water
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and, saute 5 min. Add garlic and saute for 1 min. Incorporate rice. Add water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 min. Turn off heat, let sit for additional 10 min. Move to a bowl. Allow to cool slightly.
ADD MORE FLAVOR
1/2 CUP pine nuts, toasted, chopped
1/2 CUP feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 TB thyme, chopped
1 TB mint, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Combine ingredients with rice. Allow mixture to cool before making the leaves.
MAKE THE GRAPE LEAVES
6 lemons, cut into 1/4-inch slices
In a large Dutch oven, line bottom with torn leaves, then top with a row of lemon slices.
Start rolling: Lay one leaf flat with the veiny side face up. Remove stem. Place a tablespoon, or so, of the mixture (depending on leaf size) just above the cut stem. Fold the two bottom sections of the leaf over the filling, then fold the sides in, and roll tightly.
Place in Dutch oven with seams down. Fit rolls in snugly around the circumference working your way in. Add a second level, if needed. Top with more torn leaves and lemon slices. Pour water until it reaches the middle of the top row. Place a heavy plate on top so rolls do not move around and come undone.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Then simmer for 1 hour and 10 min. Remove from heat, and let rest undisturbed for 20 min more.
Arrange rolls in lines on a plate and garnish with lemon slices. If you like, cut them in half to maximize amounts and show off the rice filling.
See more recipes inspired by the flavors of Greece in 17 Greek Food & Wine