Anything but traditional, these grape leaves are stuffed with ground turkey and quinoa flavored with bits of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, lemon zest and plenty of herbs.
- 1 15- to 16-ounce jar grape leaves, (see Notes), drained
- 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
- 1 cup cup quinoa, (see Notes), rinsed
- 1/3 cup finely slivered soft sun-dried tomatoes, (see Tips)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Greek olives
- Zest of, 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
- Plain yogurt, for serving
- Step 1
- Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Remove grape leaves from the jar and unroll. Separate into two piles—one of whole leaves and one with any torn leaves or pieces of leaves. The whole leaves will be used for rolling. Set aside the others for Step 5.
- Step 2
- Cook the whole grape leaves in the boiling water for 5 minutes; transfer with tongs to a colander to drain.
- Step 3
- To prepare filling: Combine turkey, quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, lemon zest, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Step 4
- To assemble grape leaves: Lay a clean kitchen towel on a work surface. Place 4 to 6 whole grape leaves at a time on the towel with the stem-side up and stem end pointing toward you. Pinch or trim off any long or tough stems. Depending on the size of the leaf, shape 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of the filling into a 1 1/2- to 2-inch log and place it on the leaf, perpendicular to the stem end. Roll the end of the leaf over the filling, tuck in the sides and roll tightly into a cigar shape. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling. (You may have filling or grape leaves left over.)
- Step 5
- Place the torn or very small leftover grape leaves in a large saucepan, covering the bottom completely; this will prevent the stuffed leaves from sticking as they cook. (No leftover leaves? See Tip.) Place about half of the stuffed grape leaves in one tight layer in the pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Make a second layer of grape leaves on top of the first and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
- Step 6
- Place the largest heatproof plate you have that will fit in the pot on top of the grape leaves. Place a small-to-medium heatproof bowl on top of the plate and fill it three-quarters full with water (this will act as a weight to keep the grape leaves submerged). Add water to the pan until it reaches the rim of the plate.
- Step 7
- Timing: Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the quinoa is tender, adding water as necessary to keep the grape leaves submerged, about 45 minutes. (To check if the quinoa is done, carefully remove the bowl and plate, take out one stuffed grape leaf using a slotted spoon and cut it open.)
- Step 8
- Carefully remove the bowl and plate, then transfer the grape leaves from the water using a slotted spoon. Serve warm with lemon wedges and yogurt for dipping, if desired.
Notes: Jars of grape leaves can be found with other Middle Eastern ingredients in large supermarkets, Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or online at amazon.com. We like the texture and quality of Sadaf, Ziyad, Roland and Yergat brands. If you can only find a 32-ounce jar, you can freeze the leftover leaves in an airtight container for up to 6 months. If you have access to fresh grape leaves, you could harvest your own to use instead. Select medium-size leaves from unsprayed grapevines in late spring or early summer, when they will be at their most tender.
Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa’s natural, bitter protective covering. Find it in natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets.
Tips: Look for soft (not packed in oil) sun-dried tomatoes in the produce section of most supermarkets. If you can only find dry (and hard) sun-dried tomatoes, soak them in boiling water for about 20 minutes before using.
If you don’t have any leftover leaves to line the pan, cut a potato into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place in the bottom of the pan to prevent the stuffed leaves from sticking.
How to Arrange Stuffed Grape Leaves in the Pan: The stuffed grape leaves should be tightly packed in your saucepan to prevent them from floating up and unwrapping during cooking. Working with about half of the stuffed grape leaves, nestle them into your pan in concentric circles, working from the outer edge toward the center. Make a second layer directly on top of the first with the remaining stuffed grape leaves.
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