Cooking is kind of like yoga for me. It is a time to chill and let my mind think and wander. It’s therapeutic. Sometimes recipes that take time to prepare and are that methodical in their making are just what I need to end my day.
So after coming home after a day out and about, stuffing and rolling grape leaf after grape leaf was just what I needed.
Traditionally stuffed grapes leaves have rice, lamb, and a combination of spices. I switched it up quite a bit and made them using quinoa and veggies with spices. They turned out pretty darn good; here are my quinoa stuffed grape leaves.
I didn’t know much about the nutritional side of grape leaves. I just knew they are used to package up various fillings. After a little research on them, it turns out that these leaves have some surprising nutritional benefits! One fact that I was most surprised about: grape leaves contain omega-3s! We always think of foods like salmon, flax seeds or chia seeds as ways to consume omega-3s… add grape leaves to the list! Other benefits of grape leaves are the high levels of Vitamin A and K. They also contain calcium.
Quinoa Stuffed Grape Leaves
makes about 24, depending on size of each grape leaf
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced small
1 small onion, diced small
1 red or orange pepper, diced small
3/4 c. quinoa (I used a mixture of red and white)
3/4. c water
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. salt
5 cloves of garlic
4 c. vegetable or chicken stock
jar of grape leaves (found in the international isle in the grocery stores)
1) Heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, onion, and pepper and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
2) Add quinoa, water, and all the spices and simmer until all the water is absorbed by the quinoa.
3) Once water is absorbed, squeeze the juice of half the lemon into the mixture. Give it a taste; does it need any spice adjustments? Allow to cool.
4) After filling is cool, it’s then time to assemble the grape leaves. Scoop the mixture into the center of each leaf, tuck in sides, and roll. Here is an example on how to correctly roll them.
5) As you roll them, tightly place and layer them into a medium sized pot. I’ve discovered that tightly layering them is the key to grape leaf success! If they are not tight, they will burst or open while cooking.
6) Once all the filling is used and the leaves are tightly placed in the pot, pour the stock into the pot. Slice and drop in the remaining half lemon and 5 whole cloves of garlic into the pot. At this point, if the grape leaves to not appear to be tightly placed, put a plate on top of the rolls to anchor them down. Keep this plate on for the entire cooking process.
7) Place pot over medium heat and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until the grape leaves are tender. These are great hot and taste even better the next day once the flavors mingle together. Try dipping them into some garlic yogurt sauce. Enjoy!