Stuffed Grape Leaves,
the actual leaves of the grape vine,was another favorite dish my mom made when I was a child and I still love them. After we moved from California to the Midwest, I just assumed everyone ate meat stuffed grape leaves, but I found out very quickly that was not the case. Meat filled grape leaves can be used for an appetizer, as a side dish, or a main dish paired with rice pilaf and a salad.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup rice
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce, divided
1/4 cup fresh minced flat leaf parsley, or 2Tbs dried parsley
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 jar of grape leaves (usually in the pickle aisle of the grocery store)
1 cup water
First, prepare the grape leaves. Take them out of the jar and thoroughly rinse and remove any stems that still may be attached. Leave them in a colander until ready to stuff.
For the stuffing, mix together the lean ground beef, onion, rice, half of the tomato sauce, juice of half the lemon, salt and pepper.
To assemble the meat filled grape leaves, take one grape leave with the shiny side down and place a small amount of the meat mixture in the middle of the leaf. Fold in the sides and roll up. Place the stuffed grape leaf in a medium pan with a few grape leaves, enough to cover the bottom. Continue to stuff the remaining grape leaves and put in the saucepan.
To finish, in a small mixing bowl, mix together the water, remaining tomato sauce and the juice of the other half of the lemon. Pour this over the stuffed grape leaves. Make sure they are all covered with the liquid. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to low heat. Cook for about 20 – 30 minutes until the rice is tender and the ground beef is not pink. Put the grape leaves plate or serving bowl.
The stuffed grape leaves are great by themselves, or you can use plain yogurt as a sauce.
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