Stuffed grape leaves “yalanji”

stuffed grape leaves

It is the 27th of the month which means that this post should be about our daring bakers challenge for this month. The title however reads stuffed vine leaves which are by no means a baked item, so what’s going on? Well, In a “celebration” of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we’d like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

We were asked to choose at least 1 past Daring Baker or Daring Cook challenge and recreate it by the reveal date.

Going through the archives made it almost too hard to choose! So many amazing challenges, so little time. I finally decided to go for stuffed grape leaves from the daring cooks archives and yeasted donuts from the daring bakers archives. Today I’ll be sharing my recipe for stuffed vine leaves and hopefully tomorrow or after tomorrow the donuts will follow.

sourdough donuts

Stuffed vine leaves have  been called the delight and the torment of the middle eastern cuisine and for good reason. Eating stuffed vine leaves is a true delight. Especially if  they are properly seasoned and spiced.The leaves will add a hint of flavor to an aromatic and flavorful stuffing of rice and herbs. Slowly simmered until they are cooked to perfection.Stopping at one or a few is simply impossible.

If you have ever tried making stuffed vine leaves on the other hand, then you must know the torment part. These mini parcels of rice, herbs and spices have to be hand rolled, one by one. The process is time consuming and you risk a neck pain that will last a couple of hours for sure but trust me,tasting one of these will make you forget all about that!

There are 2 widely popular versions of stuffed grape leaves, a vegetarian recipe which I am sharing with you today and one including ground beef in the stuffing and is cooked over lamb shanks.  The vegetarian stuffed grape leaves are also called yalanji and they are one of my favorite vegetarian meals. They make for a healthy flavorful meal if you serve them on their own or they can become an appetizer “mezza” if you serve them along other dishes. They work great along side some yogurt

vegetarian stuffed grape leaves

Stuffed vine leaves

Vine leaves, (see note) rinsed, stalks discarded

Filling

1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/4 bunch mint, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped or 2-3 spring onions chopped (optional)

2 cloves garlic minced (optional)

2  tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup short grain rice, washed, soaked for 10 minutes and drained

For cooking 

2 tomato thinly slice one for the bottom of the pot and one to top the stuffed leaves

1 potato peeled and thinly sliced (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 lemons, juiced

1/2 teaspoon salt

Water or stock

Instructions

stuffing

To make filling, combine all the filling ingredients except vine leaves in a large bowl.
Place a vine leaf, rough side up, on a work surface and place 1 teaspoon filling (the amount will vary with the size of the leaf)in the center along the base of the leaf.
step 1
Fold the lower third of the leaf over the stuffing
step 2
Fold the right side of the leaf over then the left side
step 3
then roll up to enclose filling.
step 4
Repeat 100+ times  with remaining leaves and stuffing.
Reserve liquid from filling in bowl.
Line the bottom of a pot with sliced potatoes if using and then top them with sliced tomatoes.
Tightly pack stuffed vine leaves in the pot. and top them with sliced tomatoes
stack
Add the reserved filling liquid , then weigh down stuffed leaves with a large plate; this will help to prevent the leaves from unravelling and keep their shape.
plate
Pour enough water around plate to just cover vine leaves,cook for a few minutes on high heat until the sauce boils, at which time turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and let simmer and cook for about 35 minutes
Once cooked let rest for about 1 hour to cool down. During this time the grape leave rolls will absorb more sauce and enhance in flavors (optional)
dawedit
Once ready to serve, empty the sauce from the pot in a separate container, then put your serving plate upside down on top of the cooking pot, and while holding them tightly together turn them over quickly so the pot is now on top and the serving plate on the bottom.
Lay serving plate on the kitchen counter and slowly lift up and remove the pot from the plate. You should now have a nice looking pile of neatly stacked grape leave rolls with the tomatoes on top. You can then add a bit of its sauce on it to taste.
vegetarian grape leaves

Notes

You can prepare this dish with preserved vine leaves that you find at middle eastern stores and delis and you can prepare it with fresh vine leaves.

  1. If using canned grape leaves, get rid of water from can then soak leaves in clean hot water for 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse leaves multiple times with fresh water to get rid of any preservatives.
  2. If you decide to use fresh leaves, select new tender leaves, that are light in color and medium in size. Remove their stems and arrange them in a stack one on top of the other. Boil some water in a pot and add the stack of vine leaves, lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and leave the leaves in there for 5 more minutes. After that, take the leaves out of the water and allow them to drain and use them in the recipe.

Vine leaves will vary in size. If they are small, use 2 leaves, overlapped, to make 1 large leaf.

If they have large gaps at the edges, cover the gaps with torn pieces from another leaf for an even shape.

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