Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

I have to admit, when I saw this challenge I had my sleeves rolled up and I was ready for a fight…with the grape leaves. But actually, they were quite tame. If you can manage to get the leaves out of the jar that is.  (How do they get them in there???) In any case, they are a breeze to roll, and despite my best efforts to mangle the leaves, they came out beautiful. So impress your friends, try them out!

Step 1. Soak the brine out of the grape leaves. Do this by first taking your leaves out of the jar/can and unfolding them carefully into a bowl. Next, pour boiling water over them and let them sit for 20 minutes. Poke at them occasionally with a spoon to make sure the water is getting in between all the layers.

Step 2. Make stuffing. Anything you want really, but traditionally rice + meat or vegetable. To prepare the rice, let it soak in water for 30 minutes. Prepare the vegetables/meat however you like, then stir it all together. Or leave it separate. It’s up to you!  Need more ideas?

Step 3. Put on some good music and have a seat. Place 2 tsp of filling on each grape leaf and get rolling.  Roll them up by folding then ends of the grape leaf in as you roll. It’ll make sense when you do it.

Step 4. Heat oil in a large pot, add the stuffed leaves.  After a few minutes of sizzling, add water until it reaches about 3/4ths of the way up the stuffed leaf. I added apricots on top of the leaves, you can also use carrots or potatoes and serve them with the stuffed leaves.  Place a heat proof plate, or a smaller pot on top of the leaves, turn down the heat, and let them simmer for 40 minutes or so.

Happy rolling!