Stuffed Grape Leaves
Credit: Ben Fink
This dish is made with fresh grape leaves at St. Gregory in Chicago, but jarred ones work, too.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and minced
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1 large tomato, peeled, cored, and minced
11/2 tsp. tomato paste with 2 tbsp. water
4 sprigs dill, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs parsley, minced
1 tsp. sugar
2 pinches ground allspice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
50 leaves from 1 16-oz. jar grape leaves, rinsed and blanched
1. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a medium pot over medium heat, add onions, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in rice, tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 cup oil, diluted tomato paste, dill, parsley, sugar, allspice, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer until rice is barely cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, adjust seasonings, and set aside to cool.
2. Line bottom of a medium heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid with 10 of the grape leaves and set aside. Lay 1 grape leaf, smooth side down, on a clean surface with stem facing you; pinch off stem. Put 1 heaping tbsp. rice filling into center of leaf. Fold sides over filling on either side by about 1" to keep filling from falling out as you roll. Starting with end closest to you, roll leaf, encasing filling. Repeat process, making 30 stuffed leaves in all.
3. Arrange 2-3 layers of stuffed leaves side by side, seam side down, in prepared pot, arranging each layer perpindicularto the previous layer. Cover stuffed leaves with the remaining 10 leaves. Add 1 cup water to potand weight stuffed leaves down with a small plate. Cover pot, bring to a boil over high heat to low, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove pot from heat and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.