Stuffed Vine Leaves
Can I adapt this easily as a vegetarian or vegan?
It takes time to prepare, roll and cook these little parcels of joy. We usually make them on festivals and special occasions, making the extra work even more special.
1 small baby potato
120g pudding rice (short grain)
500g minced beef or lamb
3 tbsp. baharat
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
150g vine leaves
3 large beef tomatoes, peeled thinly sliced
2 ½ lemons
3 tabespoons tomato puree
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and leave to soak in a bowl of cold water.
Finely grate the potato into a separate bowl of salted water and set both aside
Mix the meat, baharat, oil, garlic and a pinch of salt together
Remove the potato from the water and squeeze out any excess water. Drain the rice
Add both to the meat mixture and combine thoroughly
Set aside any leaves that are torn or feel especially thick and tough
Taking one leaf at a time, place a heaped teaspoon of the meat and rice mixture at the bottom of the leaf and form into a sausage, about the size of a woman's index finger
Fold the base of the leaf over the meat and then fold in its sides
Using the palm of your hand roll the leaf away from you, so that it forms a tight parcel
Line the bottom of a large saucepan with a layer of sliced tomatoes
Using some of the tough or torn leaves, form a thin layer over the tomatoes
Arrange a layer of stuffed vine leaves in tight concentric circles in the pan
Cover with another layer of sliced tomato
Continue layering in this way until all the vine-leaves are in the pan
Mix the tomato puree, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper and water in a jug
Pour on top of the vine leaves
Cover the saucey leaves with a final layer of vine leaves
Place a heatproof plate upside down on the top of the vine leaves and weigh down with a cooking stone. There should be at least a centimetre border between the plate and the edge of the pan
Simmer over a low heat for 2 hours, until the meat is cooked and the leaves are soft and tender
To serve, flip the pan upside down onto a large plate (as if removing a cake from its tin)
If your vine leaves are freshly picked, they will need to be very briefly dipped into boiling water to soften them before rolling. Freshly picked vine leaves can also be frozen (in which case there is no need to blanch them).
If you have bought your vine leaves, it’s likely they came in brine; immerse and then rinse in water at least twice so that no salt remains on the leaves.
To make vegan: substitute mince meat with quorn or mushroom mince