- the fruit for jelly and raisins (I do this every year)
- the vines for decorations
- the leaves for Stuffed Grape Leaves.
Yes, if you or your friends/family grow grapes you can use those leaves to make this instead of buying them from the store. Cool!
Time for some research.
I actually had to pull things together from three different sources for this dish, and who knows how many more I looked at before choosing these three. Lucky for you, I have put them all together below. You are welcome.
Picking and preparing the leaves. Per About.com, late spring early summer is the time to pick them, while they are still tender. Their method for choosing leaves seemed a bit overmuch for me, I just picked leaves about the size of my hand that were blocking the grapes from getting full sun. Something I do at this time every year but instead of into the composter they went into the kitchen. I snipped off the stems washed them, dumped them in a pot of boiling water, turned the burner off and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then I drained off the water and voila! grape leaves ready for stuffing.
If you don’t have access to a grape plant, no problem, you can buy them jarred and ready to go in the grocery store, probably in the Middle Eastern section. I have never looked for them.
The filling. I decided to go with Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, because I like Emeril and I had the ingredients. Per one snotty reviewer it may not be “authentic” but they were delicious and not the least bit “tough and tasteless” as his/her doom and gloom predictions. Especially for those of us without easy access to (or oodles of cash in our food budgets for) fresh ground lamb. Sheesh – pan a recipe without even trying it! How RUDE! and did nothing to deter me from trying it. If you want to use the traditional ground lamb for this, be my guest.
Rolling and Baking. Emeril’s directions for rolling them made no sense to me until I found another link with pictures. About.com to the rescue again. Oh, that’s what he was trying to say! After the first few it was pretty easy. I added a simple collage below to help you out.
The cooking was the longest part! It took the full 1 1/2 hours in my oven. I sampled them at 1 hour and was very dissappointed, but I splashed in a little more water, tightly covered it back up with foil and let them keep going.
They were incredible. And I am sure neither of the guys will want to try them so I get them all to myself, mwa ha ha ha!
Until next time, happy eating! ~Audrey