Stuffing Vine Leaves

Early summer is the time to gather vine leaves for stuffing. Stuffing vine leaves involves no complicated processing, no pickling or other treatments. Simply blanch the leaves with boiling water and they are ready to use. During this season, I collect leaves for the whole year, blanch and freeze them in carefully layered portions.

For the filling I usually cook rice (short grains, no basmati, as it grows too much and the rolls might burst open) until it is almost done, together with onions, dried fruits (barberries for example), nuts or seeds, herbs such as parsley, mint and coriander, a pinch of cinnamon, salt and pepper. You can also add minced meat but I prefer some lentils instead, boiled together with the rice. Add whatever you like, be creative!

Then I set a teaspoon full of rice on each vine leaf. I use the word teaspoon to give an idea of the amount; use your hands, it is much easier. Have a bowl of water ready to moisten your hands regularly, as the rice will stick.

You can find a nice visualisation of how to roll the vine leaves here. Cover the bottom of a flat pot with a layer of vine leaves to prevent burning. (I always use the ones that got damaged or are too small to make nice rolls.) Pack the rolls tightly fitted into this pot, add lemon juice and/or lemon slices, olive oil and some water and cook gently for another 10-20 minutes, depending on the rice. Voila!

Weintrauben_Blaetter_650

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