I have been in Canada for almost three weeks now. I cannot describe the reverse culture-shock. There is so much of everything, people are so big, roads are so wide, and I can get whatever vegan “crazy” ingredients I can. I started one night with some Italian truffle salsa, delicious pumpernickel bread, and Greek olives. My mom then pulled out a jar of grape leaves from her (very much overstuffed with all kinds of deliciousness) pantry. I immediately decided to stuff them. Here’s what we came up with.
1 c brown rice
20 Medjool dates, soaked for 15 minutes
10 dried apricots
1/2 c pecans, soaked for 15 minutes
1/2 lemon, juiced
chopped (chiffonade) fresh mint to taste ( I used about 20 leaves)
30 grape leaves, soaked in fresh water to get rid of brine
1. Cook the rice according to directions. Slightly under cook the rice because it will be cooked more later.
2. Chop up the dates, apricots, as well as nuts.
3. Mix all the ingredients except for grape leaves with the rice.
4. Taste the leaves. Most of the store-bought grape leaves come in a jar covered with brine. Brine is just a salt solution. Soak the leaves and rinse them to get rid of excess salt.
5. Spread one leaf on a working surface. Cut off the stem. Place a tbsp of rice mixture at the base of the leaf. Fold the sides on top of the rice and roll/fold forward to make a nice grape leaf package. Place the rolled leaf into a pan onto the seam. Continue until the pan is full of leaf packages. Make sure they are tightly packed.
6. Fill up the pan with water until the leaf packages are covered. Steam for about 20-30 minutes, or until the packages look very tender.
7. Serve hot or cold with some lemon juice. Non-vegans can have some yoghurt on the side.
These stuffed grape leaves turned out really well. The leaf provided some acidity, while all the dried fruit provide all the sweetness needed to balance said acidity. The nuts added some nice crunchy texture. Lemon juice finished off the dish. My family said that the yoghurt added just the perfect amount of a creamy finish.
My goal for the next few months is to use as many unusual or hard to get ingredients in my cooking as possible. The reason is simple; I will not have access to these ingredients for the next two years living in Mongolia. I am also super busy planning my wedding and getting all the things ready for the big day. Forgive me if I am not posting as many vegan http://wayfaringteacher.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1462&action=edit&message=10recipes as possible.
Try these stuffed grape leaves; you won’t regret it.
I wish you light and warm weather,