Spicy Lamb and Grape Leaf Tarts With Orzo and Feta

  • Serves

    serves 4-6 people


By Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick

Published on April 21, 2017

These crustless tarts, adapted from Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick's book Soframiz, are inspired by a yogurt and semolina custard that is traditionally baked inside cooked grape leaves in Greece. The authors say that, even though the grape leaves aren't rolled and filled cigar-style, the filled tarts are still a version of a dolma, a word that means "stuffed" in Turkish and Greek. "I love this version because the grape leaves get crispy and a little caramelized," Sortun says. They work equally well in ceramic ramekins, fluted or non-fluted tart pans, muffin tins, or small cast iron baking dishes.

This recipe is adapted from Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick's book Soframiz (Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016) and is printed with permission from the publisher.

What You Will Need


For the tarts

  • 14 cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
  • 12 large fresh or jarred, drained grape leaves
  • 1 cup finely chopped leek (white parts only)
  • 13 cup finely chopped carrot (about 1 small carrot)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 34 cup cooked orzo
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano or 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 12 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. Maras pepper, plus more to serve
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tsp.), plus the juice of 1/2 orange (2 Tbsp.)
  • 12 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. honey

For the sauce

  • 1 cup crumbled sheep's or goat's milk feta (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh jalapeño or pickled pepperoncini


Step 1

Lightly grease four 4-inch tart pans or ramekins or 6 cups in a standard muffin tin with olive oil. Set the tart pans on a baking sheet.

Step 2

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the fresh or jarred grape leaves and cook for 1 minute. Drain the leaves, then run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Trim away the stems, then set the leaves aside.

Step 3

In a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers. Add the leek and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside until fully cooled.

Step 4

dd the lamb, orzo, parsley, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, salt, Maras pepper, orange zest, and black pepper and mix well with your hands to incorporate.

Step 5

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, honey, and the remaining ¼ cup oil. Brush one side of each grape leaf with some of the honey mixture.

Step 6

Lay three leaves, brushed sides down, into each of the 4 tart pans, overlapping the leaves slightly to cover the pan with about 2 inches overhang around the pan’s edges. Add about 1 cup of the meat mixture to the center and spread gently to fill. Fold the edges of the leaves over the filling to cover, then press down slightly to help mold the tart and filling to fit the pan. Repeat with the remaining three pies. (If you are using a muffin tin, use 2 leaves per pie and divide the lamb mixture into six pies instead of four.) Brush the tops with the remaining honey mixture.

Step 7

Bake until the top of the leaves are crispy and the meat is cooked through, 12-17 minutes (depending on which baking vessel you use).

Step 8

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a blender or small food processor add the feta, 3 tablespoons boiling hot water, and the jalapeño or pickled pepperoncini; blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a small serving bowl.

Step 9

Unmold the tarts by inverting each one onto a plate. top each with a dollop of the sauce, a drizzle of olive oil and more Maras pepper to taste.

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