Filled wine leaves

Stuffed grape leaves, also called dolma, are a delicious and popular dish in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. These aromatic parcels are made by rolling a delicate blend of rice, herbs and spices in delicate grape leaves. The grape leaves add a subtle spice that perfectly complements the hearty filling. Whether you prefer a vegetarian option or one filled with juicy meat, stuffed grape leaves are a versatile and satisfying option as an appetizer or main course. Often served with a squeeze of lemon juice or yogurt sauce, they offer a delicious mix of textures and flavors. Enjoy this culinary delight!

Ingredients

  • 40 large grape leaves, in brine (available from Delis, souschef.co.uk or amazon.co.uk)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 300g lean ground beef
  • 140 ml chicken stock
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 250g short grain rice
  • 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • Squeeze 2 lemons

Preparation steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
  2. Wash grape leaves thoroughly.
  3. In a large pot, cover the grape leaves with water and bring to a boil.
  4. Boil the grape leaves for 15 minutes, then drain.
  5. In a medium non-stick frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  6. Add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent, 6-7 minutes.
  7. Increase the heat and add the beef to the pan.
  8. Cook the beef until browned, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add broth, tomatoes, tomato puree and rice to the pan.
  10. Mix the ingredients together, then add cinnamon, mint, lemon juice and freshly ground pepper.
  11. Check the seasonings and stir everything together.
  12. Remove the pan from the heat.
  13. To stuff the grape leaves, place one leaf, shiny side down, on a cutting board.
  14. Cut off any stems and discard them.
  15. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture where the stem was.
  16. Fold the bottom of the sheet up and over the filling, then fold the sides in and the top down.
  17. Continue rolling up the sheet.
  18. Repeat this process with the remaining filling and leaves.
  19. Line the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish with the remaining grape leaves.
  20. Pack the stuffed leaves tightly into the bowl.
  21. Pour 140ml water over the stuffed leaves.
  22. Cover the form with foil.
  23. Cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the rice is cooked through.
  24. If you want to freeze the stuffed grape leaves, you can do so.
  25. Cook the frozen grape leaves for 90 minutes or until piping hot and the rice is fully cooked.

Nutritional Information

Equipment and tools

  • Large cooking pot
  • cutting board
  • Knife
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Bowl
  • measuring spoon
  • measuring cup
  • wooden spoon
  • plate

Allergen information

This recipe contains the following allergens:

  • beef
  • chicken broth

Please make sure that you or anyone consuming this dish is not allergic to any of these ingredients.

Storage and leftovers

If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the stuffed grape leaves on a microwave-safe plate and microwave until warmed through. Alternatively, reheat them in a covered baking dish in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 15-20 minutes.

Health Benefits of Stuffed Grape Leaves

Stuffed grape leaves, also known as dolmades or dolmas, are a popular Mediterranean dish that is not only delicious but also offers numerous health benefits. This traditional recipe combines grape leaves with a flavorful filling of lean ground beef, rice and aromatic herbs to create a nutritious and satisfying meal. Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of stuffed grape leaves:

1. Rich in antioxidants

Grape leaves are a great source of antioxidants, which play a crucial role in protecting your body from free radical damage. Free radicals can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. By consuming stuffed grape leaves, you can benefit from the antioxidants that help neutralize these harmful free radicals and promote overall health.

2. Nutrient rich

Stuffed grape leaves are packed with essential nutrients that are good for your body. Using lean ground meat provides a good amount of high-quality protein necessary for muscle repair and growth. Additionally, the addition of rice provides carbohydrates for energy and the chopped tomatoes provide vitamins and minerals.

3. Supports digestive health

Stuffed grape leaves contain fiber from rice, which helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements, prevents constipation and supports intestinal health. Including fiber-rich foods like stuffed grape leaves in your diet can contribute to a healthy digestive tract.

4. Source of iron

Lean ground meat used in stuffed grape leaves is an excellent source of iron, a vital mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron plays a key role in maintaining healthy red blood cells and preventing iron deficiency anemia. Adding stuffed grape leaves to your diet is a tasty way to incorporate iron into your meals.

5. Heart friendly

With olive oil as the main ingredient, stuffed grape leaves provide heart-healthy fats. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol levels and improving heart health. Consuming stuffed grape leaves prepared with olive oil as part of a balanced diet can contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system.

6. Anti-inflammatory properties

The combination of cinnamon and mint provides more than just aromatic flavors in this recipe. Both cinnamon and mint have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a common underlying factor in many diseases, so including stuffed grape leaves in your diet may have anti-inflammatory effects.

7. Strengthening the immune system

Grape leaves are known to contain several immune-boosting compounds that can help strengthen your immune system. The presence of lemon juice in this recipe further enhances the immune-boosting properties. Including stuffed grape leaves in your diet can help increase your resistance to disease and promote overall immune health.

Incorporating stuffed grape leaves into your culinary repertoire is not only a wonderful way to enjoy Mediterranean flavors, but also a way to reap these health benefits. Try this nutritious dish and enjoy the fantastic combination of flavors and deliciousness it offers.

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