These Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves are a Mediterranean classic recipe made with short grain rice, parsley, tomatoes and onions - my favorite appetizer!
We’re in the home stretch for Ramadan 2018, and I’m sure many of us who fasted this month are looking forward to the big Eid feast and celebration with lots of our favorite foods, family and friends. For us, our Eid meal always includes stuffed grape leaves. Sometimes we make the ones stuffed with ground beef and rice, and other times we make these Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves. Both are popular versions of this Mediterranean classic!
Essentially the Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves is a mixture of short-grain rice, tomatoes, parsley, green onions, green peppers, garlic and crushed red peppers, with lots of lemon juice and lots of olive oil. There are many variations of the recipe from different countries. This version is a typical Lebanese recipe that I learned from my parents.
This seems like a hard recipe, but really it’s just a tedious recipe. Don’t be intimidated. Follow my easy steps below and you’ll learn how to make stuffed grape leaves. You’ll be rolling in no time!
To get started, you’ll need to measure out 2 cups of rice, and get chopping. Finely chop the parsley, tomatoes, green onions and green peppers. You can use a food processor here to make it easier, but it’s important to chop them finely since the stuffed grape leaves are about the size of a finger. Hence we want to make sure all the flavors are well incorporated into each bite.
The next ingredient to prepare is the grape leaves. They usually come in a large jar with brine. So, you’ll want to soak the leaves in boiling water. Then, drain out the water and stack them on a plate.
You did the hard part in step one. Now just put all the ingredients in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Give it it a good stir and you’re ready to roll. There’s no need to cook the rice in advance.
Here comes the tedious part. And that’s why this is not a recipe that most people make regularly. It’s a special treat, perfect for holidays and dinner parties. When I make it, I usually leave the rolling for after the kids go to bed. It’s kinda therapeutic and takes about an hour to roll 60 of them. I like to place the mixture in the middle of the leaf, and carefully fold in the sides and roll it like you would when making a wrap.
Fact: I’ve been rolling grape leaves since I was 12 years old. I loved helping my mom with this! But it only took me about 5-7 leaves to get it right. It’ll be the same for you. Special thanks to my mother-in-law for rolling this batch with me!
Before you know it, you’ll have a whole plate of stuffed grape leaves.
After rolling the grape leaves, I add large slices of tomatoes to the bottom of a large heavy pot. You can also use potatoes or any torn up grape leaves you find. Then add the stuffed grape leaves over them. I like to add salt and pepper on top of each layer, drizzle some olive oil, and repeat the layers.
For 2 cups of short grain rice, I will then add 5 cups of boiling water to the pot, cover it with a small plate to keep the leaves steady. Then, I cook until it’s tender, juicy and utterly tantalizing! Trust me, you will be eating them straight from the pot while they’re still piping hot!
And the result is small bundles of perfectly cooked and seasoned rice wrapped in warm and lemony grape leaves. This is where the fruits of your hard labor will pay off. And you’ll easily find yourself making these again next time you have a special occasion.
If you make this healthy-ish feelgood Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Cooking Tips: Here are a few tips that may help you while prepared this stuffed grape leaves recipe.
Make Ahead Tip: You can wash the grape leaves from the brine in advance. You can also make the stuffing, roll the grape leaves and freeze the uncooked grape leaves in a single layer. Then when they're frozen, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then cook as usual.
Storage: Store any leftover grape leaves in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Leftovers: Leftover stuffing can be cooked alone or used to make stuffed vegetables like, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant.
Sourcing: You can find jars of grape leaves at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients. You can also buy on amazon.com. These are my favorite brands: Orlando or Cortas.