Published October 12, 2011 - Last Updated January 22, 2021
Stuffed grape leaves are a delicious Mediterranean mezze. In my meatless version of this recipe, I stuff blanched grape leaves with rice, fresh herbs, and pine nuts. Lemon zest adds a lovely essence. They’re especially nice chilled, served alongside other salads and cold mezze for a light summer meal. If you’ve never tried them before, this is a fun vegan cooking project with healthy, delicious results!
Stuffing grape leaves used to intimidate to me. It seemed like such a complicated, foreign process. I sought advice from a friend of ours named Tony, who owns a Greek restaurant in Malibu. Tony makes the best meat-stuffed grape leaves ever (fingers crossed he’ll share his recipe with me soon!). He told me that stuffing grape leaves is a lot easier than it seems– all you really need is a little time and patience.
I decided to take his advice and try making vegetarian grape leaves first. And you know what? He’s right! There was a learning curve, but once I understood the process, it became second nature. The first time I made them, I used a simple herbed rice as a filling. Over time I tweaked it, adding more herbs, onion, and lemon for flavor and pine nuts for texture/protein.
The result? Delicious! Not to mention vegan, parve, gluten free, healthy– you get the idea.
I’ve provided a clearly photographed step-by-step tutorial. Are you lucky enough to have a pesticide-free grape vine in the back yard? Use those leaves! If you don’t (wish I did!), you’ll need to buy 1 or 2 large jars of grape leaves. You can find these at Middle Eastern markets or specialty stores. They can also be found online. I usually end up using a little more than 1 large jar, since many of the leaves end up damaged and unsuited to stuffing. You can use the damaged leaves to line the bottom of the pot, which helps to prevent scorching.
I often make these vegan stuffed grape leaves for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. On this holiday we are encouraged to create dishes from fresh seasonal ingredients. Sukkot ushers in the autumn season, and menus are inspired by the bounty of the harvest. That means lots of apples, squash, eggplants, figs, grapes, and– you guessed it– grape leaves!
While these are very appropriate for Sukkot, you can obviously serve these stuffed grape leaves year-round. They’re especially nice served chilled during the hot summer months. Garnish them with fresh mint leaves, lemon slices and olives for a lovely presentation.
Other Mezze Recipes:
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...