Meatless Monday: Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Herbs, and Pine Nuts

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Herbs, and Pine Nuts

Yield: Makes about 50 grape leaves  |  Total time: 1 hour
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I hadn't made stuffed grape leaves, also known as dolmades, in a long time and my only experience was using fresh tender leaves off the vine.  The trick with using jarred leaves is to gently remove them from the jar--they're packed in tightly--so as not to tear them.  Rinse them well and trim the main stem from the leaf to make for easier rolling.  Some people blanch the leaves to make them even more tender, but I don't here in this recipe.  I like these with rice and pine nuts, dill and parsley, and some raisins, but you could add ground lamb or other herbs, such as mint.



    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup pine nuts
    • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried golden raisins or currants
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 1 cup long-grain rice, such as jasmine or Basmati
    • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
    • 1 1/2 cups water, vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup total finely chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, flat-leaf parsley and mint
    • 1 (16-ounce jar) grape leaves
    • Juice of two lemons


    1. MAKE THE FILLING: Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are tender and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add pine nuts, raisins, lemon zest, and rice.  Stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Raise heat to medium-high and stir in 1 cup of  the water (or broth or stock).  Reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked but still al dente (not too soft).  Pour into a bowl and add herbs.  Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed. 
    2. PREP THE LEAVES: Rinse and drain grape leaves.  Trim any large thick stems from the center of each leaf and any hard veins , being careful not to tear the leaves.  Preheat oven to 350°.
    3. ROLL THE LEAVES: Place a grape leaf, shiny side down, on a clean work surface.  Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the rice filling in the center of leaf, near the stem end.  Fold both sides toward the middle and then roll up like a cigar; it should be snug but not too tight as the rice will swell as it bakes in the oven.  Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand and place in a baking dish.  Repeat with remaining leaves (reserve about 4 or 5 leaves for topping the rolled leaves), placing leaves snugly in the dish in a single layer.  Pour lemon juice and remaining olive oil over the grape leaves and add some broth or water to reach a little more than halfway up the rolls.  Place reserved leaves flat over the rolls, pressing down gently with hands.   Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until leaves are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife or a fork.  Let sit at room temperature at least 20 minutes.  Serve at room temperature or cool.  Store, in a sealed container, in the refrigerator up to five days.

    Date Published: September 8, 2014

    All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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