Photo Credit: Emma Alter
I first had stuffed grape leaves when I was an impressionable teenager. One of my favourite high school teachers had invited a number of his students over for dinner and that is what he served. It was so far removed from anything my mother would have made, it seemed impossibly worldly and sophisticated. I have made them myself many times, but I've never managed to recreate exactly the lemony taste that so clearly stands in my memory. This wonderful recipe comes pretty close to the flavour of stuffed grape leaves while bypassing the time and effort it takes to roll them and then cook them.
We ate this at room temperature and it was delicious and refreshing on a hot night. It would make a great picnic dish or part of a buffet dinner. I put the feta cheese into it, but you can leave it out if you want a vegan pilaf. Of course, as always, I ended up making some minor changes to the recipe. I didn't have any pine nuts, so I left them out and I didn't particularly miss them. I did have some shelled fresh peas, so I used them rather than sugar snap peas. I tossed the grape leaves into the rice cooker at the beginning rather than part way through as the recipe suggests and it worked out fine.
This recipe is from Food52.
Grape Leaf Pilaf
1 cup white or brown rice
1 cup chopped grape leaves from a jar
1 cup sugar snap peas, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped dill leaves
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup (optional) crumbled feta
1/3 cup pine nuts
1. Prepare rice as instructed on package. While cooking, place chopped grape leaves in a sieve and rinse under running water to remove excess salt. Squeeze out excess moisture and add to the simmering pot of rice (without stirring).
2. Toast pine nuts over low heat for 5 minutes, turning occasionally until they are golden and aromatic.
3. Stir the cooked pot of rice to combine with the grape leaves. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add all remaining ingredients except for pine nuts. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
4. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve warm, cold, or at room temperature
More Great Rice Recipes
Parsee Style Coconut and Cashew Rice
Vegan Cabbage Rolls