Stuffed grape leaves are from the cuisines influenced by the Ottoman Empire, including but not limited to Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern cuisine. These little nuggets of deliciousness are most typically known as dolmades. Dolma is from the Turkish verb dolmak, ‘to be stuffed’, and simply means “stuffed thing”.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves, they are a delicious treat! The grape leaves are found jarred, generally next to the olives, pickles and such in your typical grocery store, and are often stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat, and vegetables. Although plenty of variations on these exist. At first, they seem a little daunting to wrap, but they are actually very easy, as the leaf itself is often quite large and very very pliable.
- 24 to 30 grape leaves (jarred, drained and separated. This is the amount that’s in a typical jar…usually with more left over)
- For the Filling:
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa (cooked in the vegetable broth according to package directions, rinse if needed)
- 2 cups tomatoes (diced)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (pulsed briefly in food processor until crumbly)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup mint leaves (minced fresh)
- 1 shallot (minced)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (sea salt, or to taste)
- For the Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups cooked Cannellini beans (about 1 can, drained and rinsed)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups water (to thin)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (sea salt, or to taste)
Simply puree beans with lemon juice and a little water until smooth.
Add enough water to make a runny, yet still slightly thick consistency. Salt to taste.
Let your cooked quinoa cool slightly and then toss with tomatoes, pulsed chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, mint leaves, minced shallot and salt.
Place in grape leaf and wrap as so:
First, take the filling mix found in this recipe and lay out your grape leaf on a flat surface so that is is completely opened.
Next, place some stuffing into the middle, about 2 heaping tablespoons is sufficient per grape leaf. Fold one edge over, I always start with the bottom. After that, simply tuck in the sides and wrap it up as you would a burrito.
The tighter the better when wrapping, but use caution not to break the grape leaves–gentle but firm is always my favorite approach.
Repeat until all filling is used up or grape leaves are gone, whichever comes first. Your quantities may differ depending on the sizes of your jarred grape leaves.
To serve stuffed grape leaves, place onto a plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, sauce and top with freshly cracked black pepper. Store in fridge if desired.