I developed a version of this recipe last year when looking to create a dish using ingredients from my sister's vineyard, Black Ankle Vineyards. After seeing all the work that it takes to produce a bottle of wine, I couldn't bring myself to cook with it. So I used the leaves. If you can find fresh leaves, use ones that are organic or have not been sprayed, and use the newer, birghter green leaves which will be more tender. If you can't get fresh, jarred ones will certainly do. The result is a zingy appetizer with a creamy center and a bit of char from the grill. - [email protected] —[email protected]
Test Kitchen Notes
I jumped at the chance to make this recipe since I live in the middle of 40 acres of grapevines. Actually I used some fresh young leaves from my vineyard and a jar of Mezzetta grape leaves (don't forgetta Mezzetta!) to compare. Results were very similar in taste and texture. The recipe itself was tasty. The filling was a nice texture; creamy and crunchy at the same time, and the lemon zest and thyme and nuts added nice flavors. Grilling the grape leaf-wrapped packages gave them a unique look and added an earthy flavor... a brilliant idea. My guests loved them. I served them with some plain Greek yoghurt. I will make this regularly as an hors d'oeuvre. - dymnyno —The Editors
approximately 20 2-bite grape leaves
fresh grape leaves (or jarred leaves)
cup mild, creamy chevre
cooked brown rice
finely chopped thyme (or rosemary), or to taste
teaspoon lemon zest
cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
a few splashes of olive oil, if needed, plus more for brushing
If you are using fresh grape leaves, bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and the grape leaves one at a time. Turn off the water and let the grape leaves sit in the pot, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes. The best way to test whether they are done it to scoop out a leaf, tear off a corner, and taste it. The leaf will be done when it is easy to chew. When the leaves are tender, drain them into a colander, and run cold water on top to cool them.
Carefully remove the leaves one at a time from the colander and lay them out flat on a dry kitchen towel. Briefly press another towel on top of the grape leaves to dry them, then remove it and let the leaves air dry.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix together the goat cheese, rice, thyme (or rosemary), and pine nuts. Taste and add salt and pepper. If the filling seems a bit dry, add a few splashes of olive oil and mix again.
Lay a grape leaf with the vein side up on a cutting board and remove any stem from below the leaf (do not remove the central vein of the leaf itself). Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling towards the bottom of the leaf. Fold up the bottom and the sides and then tuck down the top. It may seem like it won't stay together, but just tuck in all the ends, and they will hold well. Repeat this process until you have used all your leaves and filling. Brush both sides of each grape leaf with olive oil.
Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Arrange the stuffed grape leaves on the grill with the seam side down and cook until they are slightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side. Serve whole or sliced diagonally in half.