Grape leaves stuffed with bulgur and chick-peas

Back in my hometown!

Traffic  as crazy as ever;  crossing the streets  an exercise in bravery, due diligence and plain unconsciousness ; one is not even safe on the sidewalk since scooters even hop on at their convenience and when you thought you had (narrowly) escaped sudden and painful death you find yourself in a head-on near- collision with a (charming) pizza delivery man whizzing by.

NOTE: If you wish to make grape leaves, I strongly urge you to get fresh ones (right now they are available at middle-eastern stores); if you persist in using canned ones, don’t complain to me about the fact that they turned out stringy and rubbery. You can use swiss chard leaves; for the recipe, click here

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 pound of grape leaves or swiss chard leaves
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 very large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup of coarse bulgur #4 or #3
  • 2 cups of cooked chick peas
  • 1 bunch of parsley, leaves chopped fine
  • 3 Large tomatoes, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1/2 bunch of chopped mint leaves (or a few tablespoons of dried ones)
  • 2 Tablespoons of hot red Aleppo pepper (optional) or hot pepper paste
  • salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 potatoes (to line the pot, optional)

METHOD:

  1. Prepare the grape leaves by throwing them in a lot of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then draining them and setting them aside.
  2. Pour some hot water over the bulgur and let the grains swell up while you prepare the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
  3. Place all the stuffing ingredients in a bowl, season and add the drained bulgur. Moisten with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, leaving the rest to go into the pot while the leaves are cooking.
  4. Start wrapping the leaves; play some music, if you like, because it will take about 45 minutes.
  5. Cut the potatoes in 1/2 inch slices and line the pan with them; this is extra insurance, to avoid burning the leaves, but it is not absolutely necessary. You can also use tomatoes to line the pot.

To cook the leaves:

  1. After lining the pot (or not), place the little bundles tightly side-by-side; cover the leaves with a small plate snugly; add water halfway up the pot and pour the lemon juice and olive oil and a dash of salt on top of the leaves. Cover the pot and bring to a slow simmer; simmer for one hour or a bit longer, until the leaves are fully cooked. Cool.
  2. To serve, flip the pot onto a serving platter and serve at room temperature.

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77 Comments

  1. Joumana
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    @tigerfish: you can find grape leaves in middle-eastern stores (or Greek stores) or pluck them from a vine. OR, you can use swiss chard leaves, which will give you the same results, meltingly tender.

  2. Posted June 11, 2010 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this recipe and for the tips on which grape leaves to choose. I have a vine right outside my door too but when I’ve made dolmades in the past I picked big leaves and of course they were stringy and tough. I didn’t know you could make them with meat ; in France they always seem to be veggie: rice, herbs and lemon rind usually. But I love chickpeas so will be trying this version very soon.

  3. Posted June 11, 2010 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    You’re in Beirut! I’ve always wondered about making stuffed grape leaves. Good to know that you can use Swiss chard leaves, as I expect I’ll have a lot of those!

  4. Posted June 11, 2010 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen them making these with grape leaves! Is this some kind of festive food or summer recipe? Eventhough I’ve never tried this before, I still get the point why you need fresh and young leaves for this recipe. Our local Malay loves to eat cassava & sweet potato leaves. They only used the young ones. And it tasted really good and helps to lower down the high blood pressure too! Hope you’re having a fantastic time back home. Enjoy & have lots of fun!
    Blessings, Kristy

  5. Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Oh wow! This is something new that I am seeing. Nice to see something as different as this one. Nice recipe. :)

  6. Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Had no idea you could use swiss chard leaves: thanks so much for wonderful recipes and giving us a taste of your childhood culture. I love your blog:)

  7. Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I think it could be perfect for Mediterranea page! It permits a link to bulgur too and it’s directly from Beirut …
    What about it?
    Ciao and have a lot of fun! Antonella

  8. Posted June 11, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I adore stuffed grape leaves! Thanks for the tip on using swiss chard–I can NEVER find fresh grape leaves here!

  9. Posted June 11, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    This is just like my favorite kind of food.So beautiful! Enjoy your hometown :)

  10. Posted June 11, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Those are quite possibly the best looking stuffed grape leaves I’ve ever seen. The filling sounds delicious as well. I hope you are enjoying your visit. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  11. Posted June 11, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I love stuffed grape leaves, though I have never made them. This is the type of thing I’d really like to try.
    HOpe you have a wonderful weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  12. Posted June 11, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Hey you’re in Beirut? Have a wonderful time. I’ve never used canned ones and always buy lots of fresh ones around April, wash and fold them in cling film and put them in the deep freezer. Last week I used a batch I had since 2005 (yes 2005) and they were still perfect. I am sure you know how to preserve them but here is the link in case someone else wants to do this http://kopiaste.org/2007/11/how-to-preserve-and-store-vine-leaves/

    Great recipe. Never thought of making dolmades with chickpeas but have bookmarked them and surely will try them.

  13. Posted June 11, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Loved stuffed leaves and glad now to know how to make them. Enjoy the trip. Yeah your description of walking around reminds me of my trip to Italy!

  14. Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    My brother-in-law is from Beirut. He and one of his daughters were recently there for a two week visit. My niece loved her time there with her dad. She was thrilled with the country, the people and the food. My blog today features her sister and little niece. I love it when my brother in law cooks for me. Delicious!

    Enjoy your visit.

    Best,
    Bonnie

  15. Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    SO excited that you have arrived! I hope you having the most fantastic time. Question on fresh grape leaves. This may sound very silly to one who actually knows anything about grape leaves but… my parents have a TON of concord grapes growing in theor yard. Are the leaves on those vines useable for this recipe?

  16. Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow, I love your take on stuffed grape leaves. I might just have to go and make some. Enjoy Beirut! Hugs!

  17. Joumana
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Katie
    I am sure the leaves are fine to use; what is best is to pick the most tender and young and small leaves; the large ones will be tough. Another option and a very good one is to use swiss chard leaves; cut out the thick veins and blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water, cool then cut in squares and stuff like grape leaves.

  18. Posted June 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I love making stuffed grape leaves but I have never tried it with bulgur and chickpeas. My usual recipe is vegetarian with lots of dill and green onions. Your recipe looks delicious

  19. Posted June 12, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Chickpeas in vine wraps. Awesome! A truly beautiful recipe.

  20. Posted June 12, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I would never complain to you, esp if I did not follow your excellent directions! I would love to visit Beirut someday … but for now, I will live vicariously through you!

  21. sandhya
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    your post are so evocative that I feel like I am imbibing the taste of lebanon everytime I visit your site. I admire your dedication to your ciusine, your passion comes through so clearly and you are a great teacher.

  22. Posted June 13, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I’ve not yet tried to stuff grape leaves myself, mainly because I have good access to some tasty treats, but this recipe convinces me I should definitely give it a go.

  23. Posted June 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Wondered how these were made. Thanks fo the lesson. I found a place to obtain grape leaves, so I can do these.

  24. Posted June 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I love dolmas, and these grape leaves stuffed w/ chickpeas and bulgur look amazing!
    I have only had the Greek version.
    I want you to cook for me someday, please!
    I love all of your specialties……..

  25. Posted June 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    stuffed grape leaves is something i have yet not developed a taste for, but this stuffing is very tempting.

  26. Posted July 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for providing this recipe. I haven’t looked for fresh grape leaves, but the idea of using swiss chard will save the searching time. Stuffed Grape Leaves are popular in our house, for each restaurant makes them differently. This is a great initiation recipe.

  27. Sarah
    Posted August 16, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I made these and they are delicious!!! My dad is from Beirut and he was floored by how much they reminded him of back home. Also, my fiance always had a problem eating stuffed grape leaves and I always told him it was because he had only tried the canned kind. Now he is hooked and asks for them all of the time. Very wonderful recipe, thank you for sharing!

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