My Mother is Lebanese, and I grew up eating delicious middle eastern food prepared by my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I would spend hours in the kitchen watching all of them preparing these cigar shaped treats. Traditionally, they made these with beef, but this is a vegetarian update. Enjoy! —KateSmith
4-6 meze sized portions
rice-washed (I prefer jasmine)
can of chickpeas
medium yellow onion
jar of grapeleaves (available at most specialty markets)
In a food processor, pulse juice of one lemon, chickpeas, onion and toasted pinenuts until chunky blend is formed.
Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl and add rice,lentils,cinnamon,allspice,garlic powder and 1 tbls of melted butter. Mix until combined through. Set aside while you prepare the grapeleaves
Wash grapeleaves under cold water to remove any brine that may be on them. Pat dry and lay flat.
Line a large stockpot with flat grapeleaves just to cover the bottom. (note- I usually use any ripped/torn grapeleaves to do this, as you will not be eating these. It is just used as a tool to cook with so the stuffed grapeleaves do not stick to the bottom of the pot)
Set up an assembly line. Lay one grapeleaf on a working surface, dull side up with the stem facing you. Remove any excess stem if it exists. Place one tablespoon of filling into the center bottom and stuff by folding the right side in, the left side in and then rolling until a tiny cigar like shape is formed. It should be tight, but have a little room to grow as the rice will expand when cooked. Place the stuffed leaf in the bottom of the saucepan.
Repeat step 5 until all grapeleaves are stuffed and the pot is tightly lined with grapeleaves. Depending on the width of your pot, you may have multiple tiers of grapeleaves stacked on top of one another.
Cover grapeleaves with water and remaining butter. Pack/weigh the leaves down with a plate. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 45 minutes.
Once they are cooked, transfer grapeleaves to a platter and squeeze juice from the remaining lemon over them. Eat hot, or at room temperture and enjoy! Cold leftovers are also delicious on salads the next day!