I get cravings for not just an ingredient, but an ethnicity, as you can probably tell. I hadn’t made any stuffed grape leaves in almost 2 years and found myself wondering why, as they are not hard to make and are very satisfying to eat. So, I put them on the menu along with Feta Olive salad, GF tabbouleh, tatziki and chicken kabobs. Fresh, lemony and zingy.
Oh, we made hummus too, but that didn’t turn out so well. I know hummus is really hard to mess up! And trust me, it wasn’t us. It was the can. I bought a different brand of chickpeas. These almost clanked against the side of the can when you shake them. That’s right folks, my chickpeas were only half cooked in the can. Other friends have had the same problem with this local brand, but it was in the cupboard so we tried to use them. You cannot use partially cooked chickpeas and get a creamy smooth hummus, but you can get a crunchy one. Think on crunchy peanut butter – yep, like that. Not sure what it would do to my innards, I quickly gave up on eating it with the carrots I had set out and just ate the carrots.
For the tabbouli, I attempted to use whole oats and took them for a whirl in the spice mill. It didn’t work as planned. Since bulgur wheat is parboiled, dried, de-branned and then cracked, I am not sure how to best mimic this. The cracked raw oats worked for day one’s salad, but turned too soft for day two leftovers. Regardless, it tastes great without the grain. Until I figure it out, I will just be making it with no fake bulgur.
Bulgurless Tabbouli: Tabbouli is basically a parsley salad with loads of fresh lemon juice.
One large bunch of parsley – some finely chopped some more coarsely
Juice of one lemon, or more, maybe two lemons
Green onions probably about 3 or 4 for one bunch of parsley, sliced, greens included
1 med fresh tomato diced or in the off tomato season, use cherry tomatoes cut in 1/4s
Allspice, freshly ground if possible, 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste, but it should have a bit of a salty tang
freshly ground pepper 1/4 tsp
Olive Oil, just enough to coat unless you want more.
I can see that I need to really start keeping track of measurements if you are to have any hope of figuring out a recipe that I post. I have been cooking for so long and never measured that I really don’t think about it, I taste as I go.
Stuffed Grape leaves (based on an old Lebanese recipe)
Grape leaves (I use the jarred kind)
1 cup rice
1 lb ground beef or lamb
1 Tbs salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I like garlic in most things)
1 tsp pepper
1 cup of lemon juice and save the lemon rinds
Mix the rice, meat, spices and salt together. Drain your grape leaves and put a big pot on the stove. Place a few grape leaves on a cutting board and place about 1 to 1.5 Tbs of the rice/meat mixture on each grape leaf and form the mixture into a log shape. Then roll the grape leaf up like a spring roll or burrito. Continue until all of the mixture has been used up. You will have a lot of grape leaves left. Take your lemon rinds and cut them into 1/4s or 1/8s (assuming that you cut your lemon in half to squeeze the juice out). Place the lemon rinds on the bottom of the pot. Cover with extra grape leaves to form a blanket on top of the lemons. Start placing your uncooked grape leaf rolls on the grape leafs in the pot, jam them in and make sure each layer is tightly in there. A criss cross pattern works nicely. Place some more grape leaves on top and then place an heavy inverted plate on top to weight them down while cooking. Now pour your 1 cup of lemon juice into the pot and then fill the pot with enough water to reach to the plate. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes or so until the rice is tender. These are great hot or cold and they freeze really well, so as long as you are doing this and you know you like stuffed grape leaves, just make a double batch (it will still fit in the pot) as it really isn’t any more work to double this recipe and what do you do with leftover grape leaves in a jar?