One of my favorite childhood memories is picking fresh grape leaves with my mom. And one of my all-time favorite foods is stuffed grape leaves. It’s definitely my kind of comfort food. While my Lebanese mother made grapes leaves exactly the same way every time … by taste and feel, not by recipe … I like to go rogue from time to time. That’s what I did here. I guess you can say I actually went rather rouge! Instead of a traditional plant-based version, I used red rice and snuck in some beets. Though nothing will ever replace classic stuffed grape leaves, this is definitely a fun one to serve up!
red rice & beet stuffed grape leaves
Yield: 10 servings
Serving size: 3 or 4 stuffed grape leaves
- 1 (8 oz) jar grape leaves in vinegar brine (or 30 to 40 fresh grape leaves)
- 1¼ cups uncooked organic sprouted red rice or rice of choice
- 1 medium (5- to 5 ½-ounce) organic beet without leaves, unpeeled, scrubbed, and coarsely grated
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- Juice of 2 lemons + 1 lemon cut into wedges
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- 1¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of ground allspice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided use)
- Fully rinse then soak the grape leaves in cold water. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the rice, beet, onion, lemon juice, parsley, mint, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and allspice. Set aside.
- Drain the grape leaves well. Lay each leaf, dull side up, onto plain unbleached paper towels. Snip any stems with thumbnail or kitchen shears. Place 1 heaping spoonful of the rice mixture in the center of each leaf. Roll up tightly by folding the bottom end of each leaf over the filling, folding the edges over the filling, then rolling toward the leaf point, until they look like mini green burritos.
- In a large, heavy-duty saucepan, arrange stuffed leaves in packed layers. (Hint: Line the pan bottom with several large, unstuffed grape leaves before arranging stuffed leaves on top to prevent burning.) Pour cold water (about 3 cups) over stuffed grape leaves until just covered. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Place a heavy, heatproof plate or smaller pan lid directly onto the grape leaves to keep them from opening during cooking. Place over high heat; bring to boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for 15 to 20 minutes to complete the cooking process.
- Arrange the grape leaves on a platter, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and serve warm or at room temperature with the lemon wedges. If desired, garnish with pomegranate arils, fresh mint, or edible flowers.
Per serving: 140 calories, 5g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 420mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 3g total sugars includes 0g added sugars, 3g protein