Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grape Leaves

We haven't had an opportunity to go grocery shopping on a big trip in quite some time, so I've been eking out meals from the random sundries in the pantry. I have beans, rice, flour, but I've run out of pasta and bread so you see, the cupboard is not entirely bare, but it's on the way. When thinking about what I might still be able to make, I realized we also have grapevines growing along our back fence, and some type of wild mint mingling with our bushes. (AKA ingredients for vegetarian grape leaves!) So, armed with this knowledge I went in search of recipes. I didn't find one that sounded right so I just added what I thought would make sense. First I harvested the goods from outside.
 Can you see the mint hiding in the middle there?

Next I brought them in and cleaned the leaves off.

After washing the leaves and mint, I boiled some water, removed the pot from the heat and soaked the grape leaves in the hot water to soften. While the leaves soaked, I made some rice (about 2 c. cooked), and selected the healthy (unmolested by bugs or beasties) leaves from the stem and chopped them.
I pressed three cloves of garlic, added some olive oil, parsley, dill, vinegar, lemon juice, a small onion, some sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a dash of paprika to the rice.
And, I wound up with this:
I removed the grape leaves from the now fairly cool water using the stem, clipped each stem off and placed the leaf vein side up. I put a bit of the mixture onto each leaf and rolled it tight. I placed the finished grape leaves in a pan oiled with olive oil.

I added a little water, a little more olive oil, and squeezed a little more lemon over them. I cooked for about 1/2 hour at 300 degrees. I've packaged them away after drizzling them with a bit more olive oil for use within the next week.
 I had enough of the rice mixture left over to eat for dinner. It was surprised by how delicious it was. It tasted buttery, but there was not a stitch of butter in it, and hardly any oil either since most of it was added to the pan and finished grape leaves. The mint, onion, garlic, dill, parsley sure did their jobs. And then, halfway through my meal, and even though I've used the mint in my lemonade before, and checked before,  I freaked myself out and needed to make sure there was no poisonous mint that grows in Michigan. I couldn't find any reference to any mint being poisonous to humans, and I learned something. Did you know that mint stems are square?

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