This appetizer takes a while to prepare, but it's well worth it. Use fresh grape leaves off the vine if you have them, or buy a jar of marinated leaves in the grocery store. Either way, it's a delicious accompaniment to your Mabon feasting, and embodies the god of the vine by using both the grape leaves and raisins, which are just dried-up grapes.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- 1 jar grape leaves
- 2 Cups white or brown rice, cooked about halfway
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 Cup golden raisins
- 1 granny smith apple, chopped
- 1/2 Cup loose fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/3 Cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are perfect, but pine nuts work too)
- 2 Tbs. curry powder (or more, depending on how much you like curry)
- 4 Cups vegetable broth
- Lemon wedges
First, if you're using commercially prepared grape leaves, remove them from their jar and rinse them in cold water for about five minutes. They're pickled in a brine solution, so you'll want to separate them gently and let them soak for a while. If you're using fresh leaves off the vine, soak them until they're nice and pliable.
Meanwhile, combine the rice, onion, egg, raisins, apple, mint, nuts and curry powder together in a bowl, mixing well.
Lay a few grape leaves out on a cutting board, shiny side down, and remove their stems. Place a small, compact scoop of the rice mixture in the middle of each leaf - about a tablespoon should do it, although you could use more if you have really big grape leaves. Fold the grape leaves over each other, like you're wrapping a burrito. Be sure to roll them as tightly as possible. Repeat until you've used up all your rice mixture, or run out of grape leaves.
Place all your rolled leaves in the bottom of a large pot. You can pack them in pretty tightly, which will help keep them from unrolling as they cook -- you can even stack them in layers, if you need to. Pour the broth in on top, covering the rolled leaves just barely to the top. Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil, and then decrease heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.
When the rolled leaves are done simmering, the rice will be cooked all the way. Remove the leaves from the pot and allow to cool. Squeeze lemon wedges over the tops. These are really nice served with chilled yogurt and pita bread as a light meal, or they can be a side dish to a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern-style dinner.