Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vines in my Garden and Grape leaves on my Plate

While I was looking through my Weight Watcher's materials, I found that grape leaves are listed on the core plan food list. I wasn't expecting to see grape leaves on the food list and it sparked a thought about what I might try cooking next for dinner. I wrote a while back about all the vines that had wound themselves through my garden. Some of those vines are wild grapes.

When I got home, I searched the web for stuffed grape leaves recipes. After looking over a few for ideas I created a new version which is measured out for the Weight Watchers Flex food plan. I was excited to find a new "food" growing wild in the garden and had fun crafting the recipe and trying it out for dinner tonight. If you are daring, try it and you may find something new and fun for your dinner.

If you happen to be lucky enough to have some wild grapes in your yard or if you have planted some grapes, then you can grab the flower sheers and head out to the garden. Otherwise you will have to buy canned leaves or maybe you can find some leaves at a middle eastern market.

I selected 12 nice, large-sized grape leaves, then I headed for the herb garden where I have some cinnamon basil and cut about 1 cup of fresh basil and then about 1/2 cup of fresh parsley. Next I headed back in to begin the creative process called "making it up as you go." The following recipe is the result.

Joy's Stuffed Grape Leaves

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 45 min
Level of Difficulty: easy to moderate
Course: main meals


1/2 cup uncooked SunWest Harvest Medley rice blend (from Costco) or use long grain, brown and wild rice blend.
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 tsp olive oil

12 large grape leaves, fresh
1 cup water

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 pound 90% lean raw ground beef

1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper, fresh ground, or to taste
12 dry-roasted salted almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, fresh, chopped
1 cup basil, fresh, chopped


  1. In a pot, combine the chicken broth, 1 tsp of the olive oil and the rice (1/2 cup). Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until tender. (While rice is cooking is a great time to go cut the grape leaves and fresh herbs).
  2. In a large skillet, place a steamer basket and one cup water. Cover and heat until boiling. Layer the fresh grape leaves in the basket and cover. Turn heat down to low and cook until leaves are fully steamed.
  3. In a medium skillet, add 1 tsp olive oil and the chopped onions. Cook the onions until they start to become translucent and tender.
  4. Crumble the ground beef over the onions and stir until browned. Sprinkle the ground beef with the allspice and cinnamon.
  5. Grind black pepper to taste over the beef and stir.
  6. Add the chopped parsley, basil and the chopped almonds to the beef. Stir until combined and the herbs are tender.
  7. As soon as rice is done, spoon it into the beef mixture and stir to combine.
  8. Take a grape leaf and lay it flat, backside up, on a cutting board or plate. Spoon three tablespoons of the beef mixture onto the center of the leaf and roll from the stem side wrapping the leaf points in over the beef into a somewhat tight roll.
  9. Place rolled and stuffed leaf seam side down on a plate. Continue rolling until all leaves are rolled.
  10. Spray the rolled leaves lightly with olive oil spray and then squeeze juice from half a lemon over the rolls.

Serve warm with rice if desired and fresh cucumbers (Consider trying this: slice a cucumber into 1/8 inch slices and then place the slices in a clean quart glass jar and pour the following mixture over them to cover: 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tsp dried dill and a dash of salt and a double pinch of sugar. Seal the jar with a lid and the keep over night in the refrigerator. The cucumber slices should keep for a couple of weeks, but you will probably eat them before that!).

Enjoy and have fun cooking with your own grape leaves and fresh herbs!

By the way, I weighed in today at Weight Watchers and had lost 3.4 pounds this week for a total of 9.8 pounds lost in just three weeks. (as they say, "results are not typical" but they are greatly appreciated!)

- Joy

Buzz it up


anajz said...

Congratualations on your weight loss. This something that I have struggled with most of my life. Losing nine pounds is awesome!

Anonymous said...

What a great idea, Joy. Weight Watchers is a wonderful way to lose weight. I need to go back.~~Dee

P.Price said...

Kudos on weight loss. The grape leaves make me hungry for Middle Eastern food.

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