Back from vacation! Congratulations to our first giveaway winner, Beth Brazil. We will be having another one coming up very soon!
This recipe is something you will want to make a day ahead, or at least several hours. (I think overnight is best).
For the Grape Leaves:
1 jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup long-grain rice, cooked
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp lemon juice
For the Salad:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 cucumber, chopped
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 can large pitted olives
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
For the Tzatziki:
1 small container plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp finely diced cucumber
1 tbsp dill (fresh would be best, but all I had was dried)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
First, begin the tzatziki. Secure a piece of cheesecloth over a medium size bowl, using a rubberband around the rim, leaving a little slack in the middle for the yogurt. Strain the yogurt over a couple of hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator. To make the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil through oregano and whisk together. Cover and chill, until it is time to assemble the salad.
By the way, did you know that if you sprinkle some coarse salt over garlic cloves and let it sit for a little while, its easier to mince?
It makes it a little pasty and easier to work with.
Now, onto the grape leaves. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Put the leaves into the water, and blanch for about 5 minutes. Remove from water and let them cool, then pat dry.
In a large bowl, combine the lamb, rice, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper.
Lay several leaves out at a time on your work space. Give yourself (and the leaves) plenty of working room.
Begin stuffing the leaves by putting about a tablespoon full of your lamb mixture into the middle of a leaf. I honestly don’t know how its really supposed to be done; but I folded the bottom part up first, then the sides and rolled the top part of the leaf over to make a roll.
You want them to be a little snug, but not too tight. Place the stuffed leaves in a large pot, seam side down. Combine chicken broth and lemon juice; pour over the rolls. Cover. Simmer over low 30-45 minutes until tender. You can serve these now, however we didn’t really love the taste of them warm. After chilling overnight they were very good – before I refrigerated them I poured some of the vinaigrette over them.
When ready to serve, combine the cucumber, feta, olives, and tomatoes in a bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.
Serve the grape leaves with the salad and tzatziki on the side.