These stuffed grape leaves are a real treat, and might cure you of all misguided urges you might have to open a can and find a dozen insipid ready-to-eat grape leaves. Instead, spend a few minutes on the preparation of these fabulous gems, and enjoy them with family and friends! You can stuff the leaves with anything, meat, fish or vegetarian, but today this lamb filling is the star! My grape leaves are packed solid with our favorite Moroccan flavors.
Lamb and mint: The perfect marriage!
Please don’t laugh: I notice that the grape leaves packed in smaller jars are small and a real pain to use, whereas the leaves packed in larger jars are nice and large, and a snap to use. So I recommend getting the larger jar, even if it means they won’t be used up. The remaining grape leaves will keep very well in their brine in the refrigerator.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 small bunch flat parsley
- 1/3 cup mint leaves, packed
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and diced small
- 1/2 cup golden or black raisins
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (325 degree oven, 10-12 minutes). Skip if you are avoiding nuts
- Good pinch saffron
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pepper to taste
- 1 large jar grape leaves, separated and rinsed
- 1 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat the oil in a skillet. In a food processor, finely grind the garlic. Add the onion, parsley and mint, and grind coarsely. Add the ground mixture to the skillet, and saute until translucent. Add the lamb and tomato, and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add all remaining filling ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place a tablespoon stuffing at the bottom center of a leaf (in case you find smaller leaves: Make them overlap to get a larger more workable surface) . Roll once, fold the sides towards to center, and roll all the way up. Place seam side down in a pan just large enough to fit the leaves snugly in one layer. Repeat with the remaining leaves and stuffing. You will end up with about 3 dozen stuffed leaves.
Whisk the juice, tomato paste and oil in a little bowl, and pour evenly over the leaves. Bake about 40 minutes, until the juices are reduced and the leaves look nicely browned on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.