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Vine Leaves - stuffed

There are many stuffing/fillings that can go into vine leaves, but this is one of our favourite recipes.

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For 24 parcels:

1 packet Vine leaves in brine (available from Greek & Turkish grocers, or 24 large fresh vine leaves – blanched in boiling water for 1 minute
3 tablespoons (45ml) Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, peeled and finely-chopped
1 large clove of Garlic, finely-chopped
1 lb/500gr Lean Minced Beef or Lamb
½ a tin of chopped Tomatoes
1 tablespoon Fresh Mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons Parsley, roughly-chopped
4 tablespoons Pine Nuts, lightly toasted to bring out their flavour
½ teaspoon (2ml) Ground Cinnamon
3oz/90gr Long Grain Rice
1 oz/30gr Butter
Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper
A smear of butter
A small glass of Dry White Wine.

To serve – Thick Greek Yoghurt and the thick wedges from 2 Lemons

Equipment: an ovenproof casserole, with a tight-fitting lid, big enough to hold all the parcels flat


First make the stuffing. Heat the olive oil over a low heat and sweat the onions until they soften a little. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

- Increase the heat to medium and add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon (so it doesn't form lumps), and stirring so it browns evenly.

- Add the cinnamon, mint leaves, parsley, pine nuts, rice, salt & pepper (to taste) and tomatoes and mix well together. Cook, stirring until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove from the heat. Add the pine nuts and mix in. Set aside.

- Wash the vineleaves, if using the packet variety - being careful not to tear them.

- Place the leaves on a work surface, shiny-side down and put a tablespoon (15ml) of the mixture on the centre of each. If some are small, put 2 together, slightly overlapping. Fold the leaves over to make a parcel and place these in a single layer in the casserole which has been smeared with a little butter.

- Heat the oven to 360F/180C/Gas 5.

- Pour the wine over the parcels, then add enough water to just cover them.

- Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

They can be served hot with a little of their liquid, but it's more traditional to serve them cold with yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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