Wild grape leaves are a fun delicious ingredient to use. Wild grapes can often be found growing, well, everywhere. The actual grape is not yet ripe, but it is a perfect time to gather grape leaves. For a review of identification, check out Green Dean’s description on Eat The Weeds. One thing to double check is that grape leaves have jagged leaf edges, whereas the poisonous look-alike, moonseed leaves, have smooth leaf edges.
Grape leaves are delicious…you may know them from eating stuffed grape leaves or dolmas you find in Mediterranean markets and restaurants. You can look up recipes online…some are very simple, stuffing with rice, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt and some have more elaborate stuffing.
Here’s my favorite recipe. It’s simple and delicious. I use cooked rice to stuff the pre-cooked grape leaves. You can actually use raw rice in raw grape leaves, cover with water plus an inch, weight down and boil for 45 minutes to an hour. Then your grape leaves and rice will cook together. But this is how I do it:
Pan Fried Stuffed Grape Leaves
Boil the grape leaves until soft (about 5 minutes).
Cool in the water, then remove the stems.
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 chopped onion
- 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
- handful fresh mint, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- lemon juice from one lemon
Saute onions in olive oil with a bit of salt until translucent. Add cooked rice, pine nuts and mint and toss to mix. Turn off heat. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
* salt, olive oil and lemon juice seem to be the key to yummy grape leaves! *
** if you are going to boil the stuffed grape leaves instead of sauteing, you do not have to cook the rice or the grape leaves first. Stuff and roll grape leave and place in pot, cover with water plus an inch, place something on top of the grape leaves (like an overturned heat-resistant lid weighted down with a clean rock) and gently boil/simmer for 45 minutes.
Boil grape leaves: The green one on top is the wild grape leaf. The ones under are cultivated, they turned dull almost immediately while the wild grape leaves stayed vibrant green:
Lay the grape leaf out top down (underside with veins up):
Saute in olive oil for a few minutes, then flip to saute other side.
Drizzle with extra lemon juice and ENJOY!!!
Other ways to use grape leaves:
- saute them into dishes
- chop and add to soup
- chop and add raw to salad
- when pickling other things like cucumbers - especially if fermenting/pickling the cukes raw in salt water - adding grape leaves on top will keep the cukes/pickles crunchier.