Grape vine leaves are in abundance at the moment and are sending out lots of growth. I’ve seen grape vines growing in lots of public places and it wouldn’t be difficult to forage some. I’m choosing to pick the vines growing over our fence that come in from our neighbours yard because I know they aren’t sprayed. Pick young leaves around the size of your hand for this recipe. Don’t pick any damaged leaves as the stuffing will just fall out. Try to pick in the morning and don’t pick leaves that are providing grapes with shade. Pick one or two lighter green leaves from each branch/shoot from the under story of the vine. Pick the leaves in early summer. Older leaves are tougher, more fibrous and can be bitter.
40 vine leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
100 gm uncooked basmati rice
50 gm quinoa
50 gm pine nuts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon five spice
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mint, chopped finely
50 ml lemon juice
600ml vegetable stock or water
enough tomato to line base of pot
Wash the vine leaves and cut off stem with scissors. Blanch in salted boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and then set aside in a tea towel. The leaves will turn a dull olive green.
Fry the onion gently until translucent. Mix dry ingredients and mint together in a bowl. Add cooked onion. I used whole cherry tomatoes to line the base of the pot. You could also line pot with sliced larger tomatoes.
Place a heaped teaspoon of the stuffing on each vine leave and roll up leaf. Start rolling from base of leaf upwards, then firmly tuck sides in. It’s ok to overlap smaller leaves to get a better rolling surface. Pack each rolled leaf firmly next to each other with the flap of the leaf on the bottom. This will stop it unrolling while its being stacked and while its cooking. Keep adding layers until all the rolls are packed in. Put a plate on top layer of the vines to stop them from moving in the water. Mix the lemon juice and stock and pour over the plate and bundles.
Bring to boil then simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pot before removing.