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Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Currants

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Currants

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar (1 lb.) grape leaves (about 72)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 12 green onions, including tender green
      portions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • 3/4 tsp. plus a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon slices for garnish

Directions:

Rinse the grape leaves under cold running water. Have ready a bowl filled with ice water. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the grape leaves, a few at a time, and blanch for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water to cool. When all of the leaves have been blanched, drain and cut off the stems. Set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the rice, green onions and pine nuts and stir until the green onions soften, about 3 minutes. Add the currants, parsley, mint, dill, the 3/4 tsp. salt, the pepper and 1 cup of the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Line the bottom of a heavy 4-quart saucepan with a few grape leaves. Sprinkle with the pinch of salt. To shape the rolled grape leaves, place a leaf, smooth side down, on a work surface. Put a heaping teaspoonful of the rice mixture near the base of the leaf at the stem end. Fold the stem end and sides over the filling and roll up toward the point of the leaf, forming a little bundle. Place, seam side down, in the prepared saucepan. Continue stuffing the grape leaves and adding them to the pan, packing them close together. When the bottom is completely covered, drizzle the layer with some of the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the lemon juice. Continue layering the stuffed grape leaves, drizzling each layer with olive oil and lemon juice, until all the filling is used. Add the remaining 1 cup water and cover the top layer with a few leaves. Invert a small heatproof plate, smaller than the circumference of the pan, directly on top of the stuffed leaves.

Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 1 1/2 hours. Check the liquid in the bottom of the pan occasionally and add water as needed so the pan doesn't dry out. Remove from the heat and let the stuffed leaves stand in the pan to cool for about 2 hours.

Transfer the stuffed grape leaves to a platter and garnish with lemon slices. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 60 stuffed grape leaves.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Small Plates, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1998).