Posts Tagged ‘Stuffed Vegetables’

This weeks recipe for Central New York is Stuffed Grape Leaves, page 11 of A Taste of Utica.   I had never heard of these tasty stuffed vegetables.  Most people who have been making these for years will pick the leaves right from their own back yards.  The grape leaves grow abundantly in Upstate New York.  We have so many around our yard however I’m not quite sure the best time to pick them.  If you do pick the leaves, you can keep them in a brine (not sure about freezing…anyone know?) until ready to use.  My leaves for today’s recipe were purchased from Hannafords….

DSC_0891If they come from a jar or have been preserved in a brine, you will need to rinse them well. I emptied the leaves from the jar and soaked them in cold water overnight. The water was changed 4 times to remove the salty taste from the leaves.

NOTE:  You do not have to use grape leaves for this recipe.  You can use Chard leaves.  Just boil for a couple of minutes to soften (after rinsing well to get the grit off them), then roll as the directions below.  Also…how about using the following mixture for Napa Cabbage rolls?  Don’t limit yourself.

There are a lot of different recipes for grape leaves. The one in our Utica book is different than what I have encountered before in that 1. you pre-cook the rice and 2.  you cook the leaves in the oven.  Interesting.  The result was terrific.  Here it is, step by step.  Get your leaves, get your rice, get your spices….off we go.

Stuffed Grape Leaves  (meat) by Amanda  (See below for meatless mixture)


There are no measurements in the book because Amanda does not like “confined” cooking.  I will offer the measurements I used however, please adjust to your liking but make sure the filling is relatively firm otherwise you will have a mushy leaf.

  • 1 onion finely chopped …or use 1/4 cup minced, dried onion
  • 1/2 lb lamb… or use 1/2 lb ground beef *use about 85% fat otherwise the result will be too dry OR…add olive oil to the meat mixture.
  • 3 TBS toasted pine nuts *I added this ingredient
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice – medium or short grain
  • 1 tomato – diced small * This was an ingredient I added and NOT in the original recipe
  • 3 TBS chopped FRESH parsley
  • 1/2 tsp All spice
  • 1 lemon, sliced* I added this
  • 2 cloves garlic, thick sliced *I added this
  • 3 cups lemon juice
  • 32 oz Chicken or Vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Meatless Grape Leaf Mixture *to be assembled the same way however there is no pre cooking of anything but the rice.)


  • 15 oz can Cannellini beans – mashed with fork
  • 2 TBS toasted pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice – medium or short grain
  • 1 tomato – diced small
  • 1/3 cup parsley – chopped
  • 1 TBS fresh mint leaves – chopped
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper and also 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS lemon juice

Saute the onions and ground meat until JUST browned and still a little pink. 


Mix the cooked rice with the meat.  Add the herbs and spices, pepper and salt, tomato if using and mix together.


Drain your grape leaves.  Chop the thick stem off the leaf.


Place a layer of grapeleaves along the bottom of your baking pan so the others don’t stick or burn.  Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F. 


Place the leaf shiny side DOWN and put a tsp of filling towards the bottom (stem end) of the leaf.  Fold in the sides and roll up from the bottom.  This is where I always mess up….you need to roll these little cuties up fairly tight…but not TOO tight.  Then place seam side down in your baking dish.  






Amanda’s instructions:  After all leaves are in the dish, cover with the lemon juice and broth – the liquid should be half way up the dish or less. Bake 350/375 for 30 minutes or until wilted a bit – watch to see if more liquid needs to be added so the leaves don’t dry out.



My instructions:  After you have completed the first row, add some slices of lemon, and some slices of garlic on the stuffed leaves.  Add another row of stuffed leaves.  Cover with the lemon juice, broth and water.   Top with more lemon slices and garlic.  Put the lid on your dish and place in the oven for 45 minutes.  Let sit in the oven, after turning it off for another 1/2 hour.   Allow to cool before eating. They will firm up slightly.  The meatless leaves are served cold.


Here is a little pre  prep work for you if you are working along with me from the book. Next week we are suppose to make Italian Homemade Green Olives.  That’s right, we will cure our own olives.  This takes 10 to 12 days because we have to soak the FRESH olives in water and salt to soften.  I’ve never done this before….never even THOUGHT of doing this but hey…I’m up for anything..you?   Here is where I  purchased my olives, GREAT OLIVES because I had no idea where to get them locally. If we can buy them locally, please comment on this blog and let us all know. 

We will be doing the olives in a couple of weeks to allow the softening time.  So next week we are jumping ahead to Mozzarella Sticks on page 13.


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Not the greatest of mornings.  It was windy and cool.  It had been raining all night and the sky still looked threatening.  Shane and I reluctantly got up and out for a 5 + mile run. We just made it home before the rain started. 

There was no golf for Ted today so he had coffee and breakfast with the “boys”.  I went shopping, he picked up dog hair from the weight room.  I picked up dog hair from the hallway.  Shane put more dog hair all over the house. Who won the battle? Guess!     “Woof”.


We went on a Mediterranean cruise a few years ago.  It was gorgeous.  In rummaging through some draws yesterday, I came across a little tour book we picked up during the trip.  “Walk and Eat Nice:  For walkers who also love food. Walks and excursions in the Nice countryside….” 

Tonights main dish comes from that book. Of course changes were made but it’s the idea that counts. 

Petits Farcis” = Stuffed Vegetables  To Serve 3 -4


  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 1 large Eggplant
  • 1 large Red Pepper
  • 1 large Zucchini
  • 4 large green onions, chopped
  • 1 lb Sausage meat – if you have meat eaters
  • and/ or 1 lb Vegetarian Italian Style sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBS dried parsley or 1/3 cup fresh parsley -chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (optional) – seasoned with 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning, salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cut Eggplant in half lengthwise.  Slice a “flat” on the bottom so it won’t rock side-to side. 


Do the same for the zucchini and the red pepper.  Using a knife and spoon, remove inside meat of the eggplant and the zucchini, leaving about 1/4 inch around the sides.  Put the meats into a glass/Pyrex dish.


Line a baking dish with foil and spoon just enough marinara to lightly cover the bottom of the foil lined pan.  Place the prepared eggplant, zucchini, red pepper in the baking dish on top of the marinara.  Spoon about another TBS of sauce into each vegetable.

To the vegetable “meats” add the garlic and onion. Microwave on high 2 minutes to soften.  Mash using an immersion blender or fork. Add the egg and the cheese and combine.  Salt and pepper if needed.

Cook the “real” meat sausage in a saute pan until brown all over.  No need to pre cook the vegetarian “sausage”, simply chop. DSC_0814

Add the meat or the “meatless” to the mixture of vegetable “meats” and egg then spoon into the vegetable halves sitting in the baking dish.  Spoon a little more marinara over each vegetable. Add the seasoned breadcrumbs.  DSC_0818


Cover loosely and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and cook 15 minutes more. Let sit 5 -10 minutes before serving.



Dessert:   A Delicate Healthy Brownie.  Can you believe that ?  A HEALTHY brownie?   Read on and see why. *Adapted from 101 cookbooks.


  • 3 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Promise “healthy heart” Spread
  • (1) 15 oz can Black Beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS Espresso granules (or instant coffee granules)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup Sugar in the Raw (about individual 32 packets)


Preheat oven to 325 F.  Spray a 9 x 9 square pan with baking non-stick spray. 

Melt the chocolate with the Promise in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir to blend and melt the chocolate all the way.


Put the beans, walnuts, vanilla in the food processor and mix until no chunks remain. 


Add the coffee, salt, eggs, sugar and blend about 1 more minute.  Add the chocolate – promise mixture and blend another minute.  Pour into the baking dish


and let bake for 40 -45 minutes – a knife should come clean when inserted in the middle.  Enjoy a couple or more! 


The brownie is light in texture, sweet to the taste and well worth the small amount of effort it takes to make these delicious, fiber filled, protein rich, treats.

Have a good rest of the weekend!

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