Serap Ozcan was good enough to send me the recipe to share for the stuffed grape leaves. So here you are:
Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Pine Nuts, and Currants
Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarmasi (Yalanci)
Serves 4-6 (recipe adopted from Ozcan Ozan,The Sultan’s Kitchen, A Turkish Cookbook)
This is a popular summer meze along the Aegean Coast and the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. These stuffed grape leaves are very good served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
This recipe is called yalanci, which means “fake,” because the rice, pine nuts, and currants are substitutes for meat in the stuffing.
1 (16-ounce) jar grape leaves, drained (I used the ones I brought from Turkey)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 tbsp lemon salt
2 tablespoons currants
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts (I used walnuts)
2 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 cup medium grain white rice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh/dried dill (I used both)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh/dried mint (I prefer dried mint)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, crushed red pepper, pinch of cumin
Soak the currants in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain them and set them aside.
To prepare the grape leaves, bring 2 quarts water to a boil, unroll the grape leaves, and place then in the boiling water for 2 minutes to soften the leaves and rid them of the brine. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leaves from the water and drape them over the edge of a colander to drain. With a sharp knife, cut out the small protruding stem from each leaf (my leaves were the young ones, so I skipped this part). Set the grape leaves aside.
To make the stuffing heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook the pine nuts for about 2 minutes, until they’re golden brown.Add onion and slowly cook until they are tender, not brown. Add the currants, rice, sugar, cinnamon, and 2 cups hot water. Stir the mixture, cover the pot, and cook gently for about 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the dill and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper, red pepper and cumin. Let the stuffing cool for 30-40 minutes. (You can even eat this!!)
To assemble the sarmas, line up 36 of the grape leaves side by side, vein side up and with the notch where you removed the stem closest to you. Place one tablespoon of the stuffing at the end of the leaf close to you fold the end nearest to you over the filling, then fold both sides of the leaf over the filling. Roll up the leaves-but not too tightly or they will burst.
Line a st-steel shallow pan with half the remaining grape leaves. Arrange the sarmas on top of the leaves, seam-side down. Pour 2 cups hot water, the olive oil, and the lemon juice/lemon salt over them. Cover the sarmas with the remaining grape leaves. Place crumpled wet parchment paper over the grape leaves (I did not use it), and weight it down with an heat-proof plate (one small enough to fit inside the dish).This is importan, if you don’t use it, dolmas can unwind). Cover the dish, and on the stovetop over medium heat bring the liquid to a boil (about 5 minutes). Lower the heat and cook gently for about 45 minutes, or until the sarmas are tender and the water has been absorbed.
After cooling to room temperature (if you don’t, they dry quickly and get darker), transfer the sarmas to a serving dish. Cover them and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Garnish with lemon wedges.