A couple of posts back, I professed my love for Greek food and the health benefits that one may reap by adhering to a Mediterranean diet. One of my favorite Greek foods is stuffed grape leaves. There's an international cafe up the street from my house that makes homemade grape leaves, and I always add them to my plate because they are filling and fresh. These are typically eaten as a "meze," or an appetizer, but I like to eat them with my meal because the fresh mint is wonderful at supporting digestion. When I was hiking with my dad last summer, we found a few grape trees and picked the fruit off of them, and then as an after thought, grabbed some of the leaves to experiment with. They were so easy to work with after blanching them and tasted just like they were from the cafe after being stuffed. Unfortunately the grape leaves are not in bloom right now, and I will have to wait until fall to be able to pick them again, but I did find a big jar of grape leaves at the market. Greek grape leaves are traditionally stuffed with lamb, but many cafes and restaurants also offer vegetarian options. To make these completely vegan, I omitted the feta cheese commonly used in Greek dishes. I also used a brown rice/quinoa blend rather than the traditional white rice but you can just use brown rice if you cant find or make this blend. You do not have to stick to a mediterranean theme when stuffing these. You can use the grape leaves as a wrap and stuff them with anything you would like! Do not be put off by the prep time for such a seemingly simple meal--this time includes the time it takes to cook the rice. These are fairly easy to make and the leaves are easy to roll if you follow the same form you would as a burrito.
Vegan Appetizer Recipes: Stuffed Grape Leaves
Recipe Type: Appetizers
YIELDS about 12 stuffed leaves
- about 12 grape leaves
- 2 cups cooked brown rice/quinoa blend
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 small diced onion
- 4 tablespoons chopped, fresh mint
- 4 tablespoons chopped, fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
1. Cook your brown rice blend according to package instructions and measure out 2 cups. This is all you will need for this recipe so you can package up the leftovers to use for something else. Put the 2 cups of rice in a large bowl. The rest of the ingredients are going to be added to this same bowl, so make sure it is a good size. 2. In a saute pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts in about a teaspoon of olive oil until they turn golden brown. Remove from pan and add to rice. 3. Repeat this process with the diced onions, heating until soft, then removing from the pan and adding to the rice. 4. Add the mint, dill, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the bowl and stir all the ingredients together to combine. 5. To stuff the grape leaves, lay each leaf flat, remove the thick stem, and add about a forkful of stuffing to the middle of the leaf. First roll up the bottom, then tuck in the sides, and continue rolling like a burrito. 6. Garnish with lemon slices, mint, and dill.
Also by Lauren: Vegan Bagels and Cashew Cream Cheese
Related: Vegan Spanakopita Pie
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Photos: Lauren Sacerdote