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Sun-dried Tomato and Pine-Nut Stuffed Grape Leaves
©2015 Mitchell Beazley, from Mildreds The Cookbook. Photo by Jonathan Gregson. Reprinted with permission.

If you've only ever had cold stuffed grape leaves from the supermarket or, heaven forbid, the mushy canned variety, then you need to try these ones because they are simply delicious. Although they are best served warm, you can make them in advance, refrigerate them, and then let them come up to room temperature. Don’t serve them straight from the fridge because the rice will be hard. You can use a ceramic baking dish for this recipe. However, because it is helpful to be able to see the water level through the dish, a Pyrex dish is recommended. Serves 8 to 10 as part of a mezze platter or as a side.

30 to 35 grape leaves in brine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
8 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained and chopped, oil reserved)
1 2/3 cups long-grain white rice (rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted,chopped
grated zest of 1/2 lemon


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Soak the grape leaves in boiling water and drain them following the package instructions.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic, and cumin and cook over very low heat, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another minute or so, then remove from the heat and stir in the rice, herbs, nuts, and grated lemon zest.

Spread out the grape leaves, trimming off the stalk at the base of each with a pair of scissors. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the filling into the center of each,
fold the ends over, and roll the leaves up, pressing the mixture into a sausage shape as you go. Arrange the rolls seam-side down in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish,
packing them together as tightly as possible to stop them from moving around while cooking. The dish must be tightly packed or the grape leaves will fall apart. If you find that you have any empty space left in the dish, pack it with balls of crunched-up parchment paper.

Pour enough water over the grape leaves to cover them by about 1/8 inch and drizzle them with the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Cover with nonstick parchment paper and weigh down with a smaller baking dish or a couple of plates to stop the grape leaves from floating around. Bake for 1 hour, adding extra water halfway through cooking if the grape leaves are starting to dry
out. Serve warm.

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(The Independent) Unhealthy eating has been named as the most common cause of premature death around the globe, new data have revealed. A poor diet which involves eating too few vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains and too much red meat, salt and sugar was shown to be a bigger killer than smoking and alcohol. The study was the most recent update on the 2010 report on the Global Burden of Disease, considered the most authoritative work on the causes of ill-health. read more...

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Quote of the Month
"Think about the lambs we eat who want to be our friends."

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