Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Grape Leaves

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope everyone has woken up to a home full of joy and thankfulness and is READY for the cooking, baking, praying, eating, laughing and cleaning up to begin! I for sure am and I'm so grateful I'm able to celebrate this beautiful holiday with my family... what a blessing!

Ok, so I know it's Thanksgiving and you're probably in your pj's wondering why you're still sitting at your computer when you have corn souffle and stuffing yet to cook... so I'm not going to keep you long! I'm going to give you the quick, part two installment of yesterday's post... how to make Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves! If you've been looking for a little something to spice up your holiday meals, I hope you'll give these a try, they're SO worth the work and they're oh so tasty! Here we go!

What you'll need:

  • 1 or 2 jars grape leaves in brine - 1 or 2 depending on how many people you're having for dinner. Each jar usually contains 30-40 leaves. We used 6 jars or something crazy like that so don't be overwhelmed with the photos. ;)
  • ground beef - the amount depends on how many jars of leaves you're using.. you'll probably need 2 pounds to start with.
  • uncooked white rice- 1 cup rice per pound of beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt- per pound of beef
  • 1 teaspoon pepper- per pound of beef
  • juice of 8-10 lemons
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, pounded
Now, these seem trickier than they are so don't get overwhelmed too soon! Let's walk through it step by step!

  • Mix together the ground beef with the uncooked white rice, salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands as to not leave any big bunches of salt or pepper in one place. Remember, the rule is one cup of rice to every one pound of meat. And 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper to every one pound of meat.
  • Take the grape leaves out of the jar and lay them in a colander in the sink.
  • Lay out paper towels in an open counter space area.
  • Carefully peel away one leaf at a time from the bunch and rinse the brine off.
  • Lay the leaf on the paper towels, veiny side up, unfolding all the pieces off of itself so that it lays flat nicely. (veiny side up so that when you stuff them and roll them, the pretty front of the leaf is showing)
  • Remove the stems.
  • Now roll a chunk of meat in your hand, about 1 & 1/2 inch long (depending on leaf size) and place at the base of the leaf.
  • Carefully, start to wrap the bottom, then fold in the left side, fold in the right side and continue rolling while gently pushing down to finish rolling the leaf around the meat.
  • Place in a stock pot, no water or seasoning. (yet!) :)
  • Continue rolling each grape leaf and laying in the bottom of the stock pot. Once you have just covered the bottom of the pot, one grape leaf deep, lightly salt and pepper that layer and start to pile the next ones on top of the others going in the other direction. This is to ensure that all the air and juices can get to each grape leaf!
  • Once you've reached the top of your pot or you've made what you think is enough, place an inverted plate on top of the grape leaves. (no lid, just the inverted plate)
  • Now take the pot over to the sink and fill the pot with water until you see the water just meet the plate. Cook on 'low' for about 2 hours, or until the water is mostly cooked down.
  • After this is done, remove the inverted plate with tongs or kitchen gloves (the plate will be piping hot).
  • Now pour the juice of the lemons and the pounded garlic all over the grape leaves, making sure to get it into all the spaces!
  • Continue to cook this on low, now with the lid partially on for about another 2 hours, or until the skin of the leaves is tender.
  • You're done! Serve by themselves, with hummus, or with anything and everything else on your Thanksgiving table!
If you need to see the first steps photos from yesterday's post, click here.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! They are a tradition for us and and it's an authentic original recipe from Tata. I can promise you this... you won't find better grape leaves anywhere in the world! You can hold me to it. :)

Friends, let's go enjoy our families. Let's go enjoy our blessings of food, and comfort and laughter... let's go enjoy cooking!

Jesus, THANK YOU for all that you've given us... we are humbled, happy and so so grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, you guys and happy eating! xo


  1. Grape Leaves...a Lebanese staple for our great, so easy to eat, and last for or cold. Sidney, these recipes are a "legacy" for future cooks. Great Taste, great job!