It looks like the stuffed grape leaves generated more interest than I anticipated.
They really turned out quite good, even if I do say so myself.
I cheated a little and bought a couple of them at the Baker’s Supermarket deli, so I could at least get an idea what they were supposed to look and taste like. I carefully unwrapped it to get a look at how the thing was folded around the filling and what the filling looked like, and then forged ahead with my own good intentions. Emily had bought two jars of pickled grape leaves at Wild Oats, a health food store in Omaha. The hardest thing about stuffing them was getting them out of the jar intact. They come wrapped up in rolls, kind of like a cigar and they were packed in really tight. Unrolling and unfolding the delicate things was a little time consuming, but worth the effort in the end. I suspect a suitable substitute might be blanched spinach leaves, except I think spinach stays less firm and shrinks more when cooked than the grape leaves do.
The filling was a mix of white rice cooked in vegetable stock, flavored with minced garlic and finely chopped leek. I actually thought mine were better than the Baker’s deli version, but maybe they were just fresher.
I think that the filling would make a good starter for a rice casserole – just add broccoli & cheese, or cooked turkey or chicken or chopped ham or crumbled bacon and warm it up in the oven.
The recipe yielded a large number of the tasty little appetizers, but I ran out of filling long before I ran out of grape leaves. So now, what to do with the rest of them? Any suggestions would be welcome.
At the end of the meal, Emily quietly spoke up and said, “If anyone has any birthday presents, I’d be happy to accept them now, since we’ll all be working on my actual birthday.” Bless her heart, I thought it was such a polite way to say, “Hand over the loot!” So we handed it over.
Sunday evening, we drove out to my friend Juli’s and picked 3 bushels of sweet corn, so I know what I will be doing until it all finds its way into the freezer. I’m amazed at the amount of fresh produce coming my way and I don’t even have much of a garden. What I do have is looking pretty pathetic, except for the eggplant. I’m blessed to have such a generous circle of friends!
And Mary, if you’re reading this, I’m still waiting for “news” as opposed to “olds” on Real Life Petticoat Ranch!