Nothing makes me feel more connected with nature than harvesting my own food and cooking up something delicious with it in my own kitchen. So on my latest culinary adventure (inspired by Radical Homestead), I went in search of wild grape leaves! They are surpisingly easy to find growing along the edges of bushes and fences once you start to search them out.
Here is a fun and tasty idea of what to do with them: stuffed wild grape leaves (dolmas). Dolmas are a popular snack in the Balkan countries including Greece. I have made these before with grapes leaves that I bought in a jar stored in brine. The brine is very salty and these preserved leaves need to be rinsed very well to remove most of the salt.
I picked these grape leaves myself along the edges of the park where I walk my dog almost every day! I brought them home, blanched them by pouring boiling water over them and then took them out and lay them to drain on a couple of dish towels while I prepared my filling. The recipe I used is below. Make them the day before you plan to serve them because they need to marinate in the fridge overnight. You will need about 40 leaves for this recipe.
Stuffing for Wild Grape Leaves
1 cup of brown-rice cooked in 2 cups of water
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (I used canned)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup raisins or currants
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
Pepper to taste
Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in oregano, raisins, salt and pine nuts. Add cooked rice and allspice and mix until well combined. Allow to cool.
To stuff the grape leaves, spread one blanched leaf, patted dry, vein side up on a flat surface. Add 1 to 1/2 Tbsp. stuffing. Fold lower edges and sides in and roll like a cigar. Repeat with remaining leaves. Place all rolled dolmas in a glass lasagna pan packed closely together.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare the marinade. Mix 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with 1/3 cup of olive oil and drizzle over the dolmas. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and cook for 40 minutes. Allow to cool and then place them in the fridge overnight covered to marinate.
Serve them warm or cold with my dairy free tzatziki.
Do you use any wild foods in your kitchen?
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