- 4 cups water
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced leek*
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons toasted and chopped pine nuts**
- 2 tablespoons dried currants
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/2 teaspoon dried savory
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 (14.5-ounce) undrained can crushed tomatoes
- 24 bottled grape leaves***
2. Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leek and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure not to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Set aside 1/4 cup of this leek mixture; add the rest of the leek mixture to the cooled rice.
3. Add the parsley, the pine nuts, the currants, the dill, the lemon juice, the lemon rind, the savory, the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to the rice as well, stirring to combine; set aside.
4. In a large skillet, combine the reserved 1/4 cup leek mixture, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Carefully remove 24 grape leaves from the bottle - this step is incredibly delicate, since the leaves will be wrapped around one another. If you tear a couple in the process, you should be all right, since they are generally sold about 60 leaves to the bottle. Some will also be smaller than others, and you'll want the largest grape leaves of the bunch for this recipe.
6. Carefully rinse the 24 grape leaves you select, and pat dry with paper towels. Working with 1 leaf at a time, trim the toughest part of the stem from the center of the leaf, using a sharp knife, and discard. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into the center of the leaf. Fold up the sides of the grape leaf, then roll up from bottom to top, jelly-roll fashion. Place, seam side down, in the tomato mixture. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and rice filling.
7. Cover and cook in the tomato sauce over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Serve these delicate little appetizers with other Greek-themed tapas (like olives or store-bought tabbouleh salad) for an elegant appetizer.
*As always, my advice is to slice the leek first, then rinse the slices thoroughly in a colander to make sure you get the dirt from all the layers.
**Toast the pine nuts in a skillet; cook over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, shaking almost constantly, and keeping watch to make sure they don't cross the line from toasted to burnt.
***Look for bottled whole grape leaves in the supermarket aisle with the olives and bottled roasted peppers. You will almost certainly see some that are already stuffed (dolmas), so make sure you are just buying the leaves.
8 servings (3 stuffed leaves, about 1/4 cup tomato sauce), Calories 148
On a side note, I've cooked with several types of rice this month, including short-grain sushi rice and long-grain brown rice. Rice is great, but I often find myself with large quantities of leftovers, wondering what to do with it. Here are a couple quick rice side dishes if you feel the same:
Top with hot marinara sauce and your favorite vegan cheese.
Stir in vegan Parmesan sprinkles and dried basil.
Stir in toasted nuts (I used pine nuts and walnuts).