Not sure about everyone else but I find myself so busy I can hardly keep up with it all especially meals. With our busy schedules, it’s not always easy to eat right and sometimes I find myself opting for less healthy choices while I’m out. I try to make up for it the best I can by making sure the food that we’re eating at home is healthy and filling. With a full time job and homeownership, any opportunity to make a big meal that can carry us through the week is an absolute god send!
One of my favorites to make are grape leaves; they aren’t quick to make but you can make a large batch of them that will definitely carry you through for a good long while. Since my husband and I don’t eat meat as much I chose to go the vegetarian route. Not only are vegetarian grape leaves delicious but they’re the kind of meal where you get the most bang for your buck. All the ingredients are fairly inexpensive and for the amount of grape leaves you get you’ll probably never go and buy them from the store again.
My suggestion is to make them on a weekend day as you’ll need to set aside some time to roll them. When I was younger, my mother would have my sisters and I help her roll them to cut down the time. A lot of lebanese dishes are made in groups, My father told me that women in his neighborhood would all pitch in for the ingredients on multiple recipes and make enough to split amongst themselves. I would actually suggest on your first try at these inviting some friends over and splitting batch or two’s worth! For the amount of ingredients there are they definitely go a long way and you won’t be disappointed! The reason I made these this week is I was dreading my work week. It’s been extremely stressful and having a recipe like this made is a lifesaver when you have a lot to do and not enough time to do it all! Plus, they have your veggies, grains, and protein from the chickpeas, you really can’t go wrong!
3 bunches of Flat Leaf Parsley
4 medium Vine Ripened Tomatoes
1 medium Yellow Onion
1 small can of Goya Chickpeas
2 Tablespoons of dried crushed mint
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups white rice
¼ cup olive oil
1-2 Teaspoons of salt (to taste)
Juice of two lemons
1 large jar of brined grape leaves
5 cups of water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon of salt
To start: Chop the parsley fine, as if you were making tabbouleh then rinse the parsley thoroughly to remove dirt. The best way to do this is to clean your sink, fill it with cold water and use a strainer to catch the parsley, the dirt will fall to the bottom. Dice the Tomatoes and onion fine, then rinse the can of chickpeas. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and add the cinnamon, mint, olive oil and some of the salt. Mix and taste to see how it tastes to you then add more salt only if necessary.
Roll grape leaves like you would a burrito; folding the bottom, then the sides and rolling until there it’s wrapped. Be sure not to put more rice in than the leaf can handle, if it is leaking out the side or feels difficult to wrap that is usually a good sign. Place in large cooking pot and set aside. If you have any broken leaves be sure to keep them. Once you have finished rolling up the well kept ones you can place these as well as any extra leaves you may have after running out of filling over the grape leaves; it helps trap moisture in.
Mix 5 Cups water with the lemon mixture, stir until the salt is fully dissolved. Compress the leaves by covering them with a dish that will fit into the pan. This will prevent them from floating up. Once you have your grape leaves secured pour the broth over them.
Turn on your stove burner to medium heat and wait until the broth starts to boil…Lower the heat and let simmer until the rice is cooked which is about 40-45 minutes. Vegetarian grape leaves are meant to be eaten lukewarm or cold so let them cool for a bit then dig in and enjoy! They’re great for a quick healthy snack or a delicious dinner!