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If you are a subscriber, like me, to Vegetarian Times Magazine I’m sure you saw this recipe called Stuffed Grape Leaves Casserole starring at you. I love dolmas and just about anything middle-eastern. It is in the January/February 2012 Issue and has a full photo spread.

After my first attempt at being an All-American Housewife casserole, I thought this recipe was just calling my name. We loved the Cheezy Sausage Pasta Casserole that I created but knew this recipe would be a good alternative. We were not disappointed but did agree to spike up the spices, that’s a personal choice though. One downfall is the recipe really does take a bit of time to put together.

You can cook this recipe too from the original recipe online HERE.  Note: Double the spices and if you want to save some money, subtract the pistachios and add almonds. Our Jordanian neighbors always put almonds in their dishes, so it’s not a far-cry from the original. You can also subtract the oil and just use water, it didn’t make a difference in flavor.

Serves 8
30 jarred or fresh grape leaves
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for brushing top of casserole and casserole dish
1 large onion, finely diced (2 cups)
1 cup brown rice
2 cups low-sodium tomato juice or vegetable juice
1 cup chopped unsalted, hulled pistachios
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup raisins or dried currants
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced, for garnish

1. Dip grape leaves in large pot of boiling water 2 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 7 to 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add rice and 21/2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 30 to 40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in tomato juice, pistachios, parsley, mint, raisins, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. (Mixture will be very wet.)

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 2-qt. baking dish with olive oil. Pat grape leaves dry. Line bottom and sides of baking dish with grape leaves, allowing leaves to hang over sides. Spread half of rice mixture over grape leaves. Top rice with more grape leaves, then top with remaining rice mixture. Cover casserole with remaining grape leaves, and seal by folding over grape leaves around edges. Brush top with olive oil. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until grape leaves on top darken and casserole looks firm and dry.

4. Dip knife in cold water. Cut straight down with tip of knife to make 8 servings, then remove servings with spatula. Garnish with lemon slices, and drizzle with pomegranate molasses (if using).

Nutritional Information
Per 1 1/2-cup serving: Calories: 341, Protein: 8g, Total fat: 2g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbs: 48g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 408mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 17g

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