“Ground beef in a leaf” is what my friend Abby calls grape leaves. Abby is my co-teacher at the little Mom’s Day Our program where I teach two days a week, and I think I’ve been weirding her out with the random things I bring for lunch, like grape leaves.
Grape leaves are always good. They are good hot. They are good cold. They are good for lunch, dinner, a snack and I’ve even eaten them for breakfast. They are a little time intensive, but totally worth it. And it’s completely hilarious when 3-year-old John tells me he wants to eat “weeves” (leaves). My friend Nikki is married to a guy who is a half Lebanese, and this recipe is largely thanks to her and her delightful Lebanese mother-in-law.
Jar of grape leaves
10-12 ounces raw ground beef
1 cup uncooked non-instant brown rice
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon Allspice
salt and pepper to taste
Drain and rinse the grape leaves in cold water. Cut the stems off and pat dry. Mix the next six ingredients in a large bowl. Lay out a grape leaf on a piece of paper towel. Place a spoonful of mixture at the base of the leaf. Follow my Flickr pictures that guide you in rolling the leaf. The trick is to not roll it so tightly that the rice can’t expand a little as it boils. Place rolled leaves in the bottom of a standard pot, lining the grape leaves around the bottom of the pan, then the middle, and repeating the pattern on top until you’ve used up all the leaves. Fill the pot with cold water not quite covering the grape leaves and add a generous splash of lemon juice (about 2-3 tablespoons). Bring water to boil and simmer for about one hour until almost all water is absorbed.
This recipe is great with pita and fresh hummus.