Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lemony Rice-Stuffed Grape Leaves

Along with the spreads I greeted my guests with upon their arrival, Lemony Rice-Stuffed Grape Leaves (page 28) made an appearance. We again have something similar in Romania – which is probably why we like Mediterranean foods: we've got our own versions of the stuff. Only they're called sarmale and are made with cabbage leaves. Still, same idea: the filling involves rice and the wrapping is some manner of sweet or sour leaf. Some people prefer their sarmale sour; some sweet. Grape leaves are usually sour; and if there's lemon involved, like here, the tartness factor is amplified.

My guests were delighted by these aromatic, lemony little packets. My dad, though, told me he prefers sweet sarmale; still, he liked them all right despite not being much into anything sour, unlike myself and one of the other guests – we're sour-holics. Well, I'd say pleasantly tart rather than sour, as dolmas should be. Simple and elegant, these make a fine appetizer, side-dish, or buffet-feature. (Use basmati rice; the filling's simple so you want all that aroma.)

And, though wrapping the filling into grape leaves is somewhat time-consuming, it's entirely worth it for the “I've done that too and it wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be!” feeling you get afterward. I'm only a few months into cooking, and this book has been affording me a lot of exciting firsts with, so far, no blunders to speak of. Wait, it gets more exciting presently, I'm all about jumping in headfirst.

- - Ulpia, [grape] leaf roller - -


  1. I love stuffed grape leaves but never made them myself. Good to hear that you liked these. Maybe I'll try them one day.

    I am so impressed that you've only been cooking for a few months. :)

  2. Oh! I tested this recipe! Similar variations (a little more involved than Robin's -- hers is nice and easy) have been in my family forever. I love how working with grape leaves makes me feel like I'm tapping into "ancient" food history or something.

  3. Cassie, I feel the exact same way! My family's been making similar things for hundreds of years, it's awesome to think about.


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