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Stuffed Grape Leaves

12 May

I can’t call this a recipe because I haven’t worked one out, it’s more like a “food idea.” But it’s a really good idea — paleo stuffed grape leaves! Our grape vines have such pretty soft leaves right now, and I really like stuffed grape leaves, and I’ve always wanted to make them at home with fresh leaves… so I figured why not?

Here’s what I ended up with:

paleo grape leaves

Stuffed fresh grape leaves

Before I started I did some poking around online for advice and came back with two things that seemed critical:

  1. Steep the leaves briefly in boiling water before starting, until they turn from bright green to dull green.
  2. Cut out the vein/stem at the very center of the leaf, where it attached to the petiole.

Other than that, I winged it. Here’s what I did:

  • Picked leaves that were still tender.
  • Put them in a tempered glass container, poured boiling water over them, let them sit until they turned olive green.
  • Drained and rinsed with cold water.
  • Made the filling: I had some grass-fed beef cut for stir-fry that I hand chopped (albeit with a pretty dull knife, so it’s more accurate to say I smashed it a little) then mixed with garlic, salt, and a Georgian (the country, not the state) spice mix that someone gave me some years back and that I don’t really know anything else about except that it’s yummy. I eyeballed the filling-to-leaf ratio and I didn’t get it quite right, but it turned out okay.
  • Separated the filling into little lumps, put a lump in the center of a leaf, and wrapped, making sure to completely enclose the meat and stick the leaf back to itself well.
  • Put each bundle in a steamer basket, then steamed them all for about 15 minutes.

Traditionally dolmas are served cold, but I ate mine hot. I drizzled a little olive oil on top and sprinkled on some coarse salt. This is great as a snack, or a party appetizer. They would be even better with lamb (which would also be more traditional), and you could add other vegetables to the filling easily.

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