Last week, I talked about how to harvest and preserve grape leaves. This week, I’m going to cover something even more fun: eating them! The following recipe is one of my favorites. It’s vegan-friendly, easy to make and you can customize it to your own tastes. So without further ado, here’s how it’s done.
Start with the grape leaves. If you’re using frozen, thaw them and lay them out on paper towels to soak up excess moisture. For canned or salt-packed grape leaves, give them a thorough rinse to remove excess salt or brine, then lay them out on paper towels to dry.
As the grape leaves are drying, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the bulgur wheat, garlic powder, parsley and mint. Cook until the wheat is tender—about 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can put the water, wheat and spices in a covered, microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for approximately 15 minutes.
Once the wheat is tender and all the water is absorbed, toss it with the lemon juice and tomatoes. You can add a little more lemon depending on how tangy you like your tabbouleh. At this point, you can serve the tabbouleh by itself – it works great as both a hot and cold dish—or you can use it to stuff grape leaves.
Preheat your oven to 350° F and spray a baking pan with cooking spray. To fill grape leaves, place a spoonful near the stem of each leaf. You can trim the stems away from the leaves if you like, but it’s not necessary. Roll the leaf around the tabbouleh, folding the edges of the leaves in as you go. If you’ve ever made eggrolls, the filling and rolling process is pretty similar.
Place the filled grape leaves in the prepared pan, cover it with tinfoil to keep the leaves from drying out too much as they cook, and bake them for 20 minutes. Once baked, you can serve them any way you like – hot or cold!
I like this recipe because the lemon in the tabbouleh and the tangy taste of the grape leaves meshes very well. It’s also a great make-ahead recipe, and it’s versatile. I’ve served it as both an appetizer and a side dish to a larger Greek meal. This recipe has always gotten me rave reviews—even from the people who think I’m weird for eating grape leaves. Plus, it makes for interesting conversation when my guests learn that the leaves came from the edges of my neighbor’s cornfield!
If you have more great grape leaf recipes, share them in the comments section!