Stuffed Grape Leaves

I’ve managed to befriend a darling pair, the Sabbaughs, who I met at my local gym where I do workouts a few nights per week. Not only do they make the workouts more bearable/enjoyable, but I also know the Sabbaughs through mutual friends.

I’d been pestering Sandy to teach me how to make some of her delicious traditional Middle Eastern foods (in particular, baklava; I can never get the phyllo dough to cooperate!) after I got a taste of her wonderful cooking at the holiday party last year. I’ll have to wait until the fall/winter in order to learn how to make baklava since it is mostly consumed during the holiday season, but I was fortunate to learn how to make stuffed grape leaves. There is a very particular way one must go about wrapping the leaves, and depending on the leaf size and the way the leaf was obtained and preserved, the whole process can be rather tedious and time consuming. Nevertheless, the result is totally worth the time and effort!

Here is the recipe (that she slightly modified), from Sandy’s recipe book:

We followed the recipe with some slight modifications. We did not blanch the grape leaves. We also tried a grape leaves obtained from a variety of sources; naturally picked and frozen, from a jar, and vacuum packed. By far, the leaves I enjoyed working with the most were the ones that had been naturally obtained and frozen.

Once the stems of the leaves were picked off, and the stuffing was made, we got started on rolling the leaves.

All in all, Sandy and I spent about 1.5 hours wrapping the leaves; this isn’t a trivial time commitment. After we were finished packing the leaves, we tightly arranged the stuffed leaves into a pan and placed a plate on top so that the leaves would not rise and float around.

We let the leaves sit in boiling water for about 45 minutes. When they were done, we could barely wait for them to cool before having a taste; I may have burned the roof of my mouth in the process 😉

It was a neat technique to pick up, hopefully I can learn how to handle pesky phyllo dough next.

I’m currently at the airport and now off to board my flight to Minneapolis. Wish me luck!


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