Make Ahead

Grape Leaf Pilaf

June 20, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I love stuffed grape leaves. My Grandma taught ESL and had many Middle Eastern students. She made these for them (and us!) all the time. In her attempt to make them feel at home, she created a dish that makes me think of home.

Dolmas are one of my favorites, but I don't always have it in me to carry out the production that is stuffing, wrapping and steaming them. I invented this salad as a shortcut way to get the extraordinary flavor of grape leaves that I often crave in an easy-yet-satisfying salad.

Because the base of the salad is rice, it travels well and can be kept at room temperature for prolonged periods of time, unlike salads that are just veggies or greens. - Anitalectric


Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Anitalectric is a vegan chef and baker living in Brooklyn -- and a longtime Food52er!
WHAT: A mostly-pantry pilaf -- with the zippiness of fresh dill and sugar snaps -- that's both satisfying and elegant.
HOW: Cook your rice, toast your pine nuts, and toss everything together.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love the use of grape leaves in this pilaf -- it's like a deconstructed dolma. The pine nuts, feta, sugar snaps, and dill add lashings of brightness and texture. This would be a wonderful side dish, or brown bag lunch, or vegetarian main, or snack...basically, we'd eat this anytime. —susan g

  • Serves 4
  • 1 cup white or brown rice
  • 1 cup chopped grape leaves from a jar
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup (optional) crumbled feta
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
In This Recipe
  1. Prepare rice as instructed on package. While cooking, place chopped grape leaves in a sieve and rinse under running water to remove excess salt. Squeeze out excess moisture and add to the simmering pot of rice (without stirring).
  2. Toast pine nuts over low heat for 5 minutes, turning occasionally until they are golden and aromatic.
  3. Stir the cooked pot of rice to combine with the grape leaves. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add all remaining ingredients except for pine nuts. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Contest Entries

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sarah Smith
    Sarah Smith
  • QueenSashy
  • lapadia
  • Anitalectric
I am a self-trained vegan chef, pastry chef and baker. Please visit for more info, and check out DIYVeganTV, my new cooking channel on YouTube. I make Anita's Creamline Coconut Yogurt, a dairy-free probiotic yogurt available at stores throughout NYC. Please visit for more info. Thanks for checking out my recipes!