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 along the edges of the park where I walk my dog almost every day! 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 30 leaves for this recipe.
Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves
30 or so wild grape leaves
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
Rice Stuffing (recipe below)
Wash the grape leaves and then place them in a bowl or dish. Pour boiling water over the leaves and let them sit for a couple of minutes. Remove the leaves from the water and place on a towel to drain.
To stuff the grape leaves, spread one blanched leaf, patted dry, vein side up on a flat surface. Add about 1 Tbsp. of 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 by mixing the lemon juice with the olive oil Drizzle the marinade 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.
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
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.