This is a recipe widely spread in Eastern Europe. The name varies by country and also the recipe varies slightly by country. Using the same recipe you can stuff not only grapevine leaves but also cabbage leaves (fresh or pickled) and horse radish leaves. It is even better if you combine them and make a mixed pot. The taste is simply delicious. An excellent combination is with sour cream and polenta. Cooking can be done in the oven or with a slow cooker.
Note: If you wand a tasty vegetarian recipe just replace the meat with only rice and crank up the spices
What you will need:
- 1/2 kg ground beef/pork/chicken.
- 4 onions medium size
- 150 ml olive oil
- 200 grams white or brown rice
- 1 bunch of parsley or dill – you can use both.
- 1 small can of tomato paste (156ml)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 jars of grape leaves in brine. I use Krinos (500 ml each) and you can find them in Canada in stores like Food Basics/Nicastros/European Delicatessen. I am sure you can find them in any plac in the world where a Eastern European community is established (hint – look for the Greeks )
- 2 tomatoes
- Slow cooker or oven
- Take the grape leaves out of the jar, rinse them in cold water and keep them for a few minutes immersed in water to wash the salt out.
- Keep a part of the leaves for the bottom of the pan and for covering the stufed leaves during cooking.
- Wash the rice.
- Chop the onions and sauté them in the 150 ml olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and mix them well together. Leave the pan on the oven for two more minutes and then take it off.
- Chop the parsley and/or dill.
- Use a big pan and combine the onion mixture, parsley/dill with the ground meat, rice, salt, pepper and mix them well together. This is the stuffing you will use for the rolls.
- Lay the grape leaves on a plate and cut each leaf in two. You can use the whole leaf in case you would like to make bigger rolls.
- Now it is time to show your dexterity by making really small and cute rolls….the smallest they are, the cutter and easier to impress the guests. You will need 10 thin fingers, but in case you don’t have them, just use regular size ones
- Take a good leaf (without holes in it), lay it in your palm and place approximately one or 2 teaspoons of the stuffing mixture, with a teaspoon, on the leaf (the amount of stuffing depends on the size of the leave).
- Compact the mix in the leaf and roll it like a cigar. Close it at the ends by pressing the leaf ends inside with your fingers.
- Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.
- If you like combine multiple types of leaves like horseradish and cabbage
- Line the bottom of the slow cooker’s pan with the half of reserved leaves. Over them place layers of stuffed grapevine leaves.
- Cut the tomatoes in small pieces in put it over the last layer for enriched taste and color. The last layer is the other half of the reserved leaves.
- Use the slow cooker at slow temperature for about 7 hours.
They last about a week in the refrigerator. Enjoy them served warm with a bit of sour cream and maybe polenta and with beer or red wine.