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Armenian Stuffed Grape Leaves

Submitted by on Wednesday, 2 June 2010One Comment

Adapted from a family cookbook of simplified Armenian and Near East recipes, Rose Baboian’s Armenian-American Cook Book is a treasure trove of dishes that include some recipes that are not commonly reproduced without directions, such as stuffed grape leaves and pistachio brittle. The cookbook is full of recipes for Armenian breads, pilaffs, dolmas (stuffed vegetables), “cooking juices” for vegetables, and even an Armenian Christmas Menu. There are a few copies available on the Internet, and worth tracking down if you are interested in authentic Armenian cuisine.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup canned tomatoes
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup rice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried and crushed mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Aintab red pepper (or paprica mixed with a little cayenne to taste)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup tomato paste
Mix together. Cover

In a large pot, sautee the onions in the olive oil until light brown. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes on very low heat until all the water is absorbed. Let set for 15 minutes.

Rolling Grape Leaves
If fresh grape leaves are used, place the leaves on top of each other, wrong sides up and stem ends toward you, placing about 20 leaves in each pack. Soak the packs, one pack at a time, in boiling water. (Drop one pack into 1 qt. boiling water, simmer 1 minute, turn over and simmer 1/2 minute more. Remove from boiling water and soak the other packs the same way.

If preserved grape leaves are used, just squeeze away the salt water. (Sometimes canned leaves are very salty. Be sure to rinse in hot water.)

Cut off the stem of the leaf
Spread the leaf on a board or a plate, wrong side up with stem end toward you.
Place one to two teaspoons rice stuffing 1/2 inch above the stem end of the leafe.
Fold the two end sides and the stem side over the stuffing and roll into the shape of a carrot. The stuffed leaf should be about 3/4″ in diameter. Continue wrapping the leaves.

Place 2 or 3 leaves in the bottom of the pot. Arrange the stuffed grape leaves side-by-side in layers in the pot.

Pour 1 1/2 cups water, 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt over the grape leaves. Place a heavy plate over the stuffed grape leaves to keep them in place. Bring to a boil; add more salt and lemon juice to taste. Simmer for about 1 hour until the rice is cooked. Drain any remaining juice. Collect some of the olive oil and spoon over the leaves. Cool in the pot.

Adapted from Rose Baboian’s Armenian-American Cook Book

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