Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stuffed Vine Leaves - Yaprak Dolma

You can't have a Turkish meze set up without the stuffed vine leaves.

It does take some time to make but nothing tastes like it. And with this recipe you can make a large quantity which you can eat day after day:)

There are so many different recipes that you can find for stuffed leaves, but nothing tastes like my mother's. They are moist and very tasty.

When you have the time for it, I definitely urge you to make them.


STUFFED VINE LEAVES - YAPRAK DOLMA

Ingredients:
1 lb. of grape leaves (found in Turkish, Greek or Armenian markets - sometimes in packages, and sometimes in jars)
1 lb. Onions, grated ½ Cup Water
1 bunch of Dillweed (yes, you are using lots of it)
1 tsp Mint
2/3 cups Rice, uncooked
1 tsp Olive Oil
½ Lemon, squeezed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Place the vine leaves in hot water while you are preparing the stuffing. It gets rid of the bitter juices of the leaves and makes them softer.
At the same time add hot water to the rice and let it sit like that for about 15 minutes.

In a nonstick pan add water and grated onions and start to saute the onion until they turn pink on low heat, constantly stirring. This should be about 15 minutes.
The rice would be ready by the time the onions are ready. When onions have turned pink, add the rice, dill, mint, olive oil, salt and pepper. Don't add too much salt as the leaves may be already salty.

Cook on low heat for about 4-5 minutes and turn the heat off. Squeeze the half lemon to the mixture.

After washing the leaves stuff them with this mixture. Fold the sides over and roll the leaf into rectangular parcel. Make them as tight as possible without ripping the leaves.

When ready, get a non-stick pot in which you will be cooking the stuffed leaves. Cover the base of the pot with the left-over, unstuffed grape leaves. You have to do this in order to prevent the stuffed leaves from burning. These leaves that you are covering the base with will be burnt. Don't worry about it, you will be discarding them.

Once you have put all the stuffed leaves in the pot, get a plate that is slightly smaller than the pot and place directly on top of the stuffed leaves to cover tightly. You HAVE to do this, otherwise the leaves will become undone. Use a plate you don't care much about, because it will get stained.

Add hot water until the plate is covered. Turn the heat on to low to medium-low and cook the leaves until all of the water has evaporated.

Wait until it cools off, and then move to serving platter. Serve cold.

I like serving it with a lemon wedge. Putting a drop or two of lemon on the stuffed leaves perks up the taste.

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