A very popular dish especially in Greece and Lebanon, stuffed vine leaves are delicious and easy to make and are perfect when serving an all Mediterranean set of food.
1 Cup of Abukass Rice
8 cups of water
1 teaspoon sea salt
One 16-ounce jar fresh small grape leaves in brine (about 70 leaves)
2 medium-large onions, finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds lean ground beef or lamb (or a mixture of both)
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups of water
Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot, and add the juice of 1/2 lemon and the salt. Carefully unroll the leaves (do not separate them). Turn off the heat and place leaves in the hot water for 3 minutes. Remove leaves and place them in a bowl and cover with cold water. When cooled, drain in a colander. Soak the rice for 10 minutes in hot water and drain. (Alternatively, sauté the rice with the onion.) Sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until translucent, not browned. In a bowl, combine the onions, ground beef, rice, remaining olive oil, dill, mint, juice of 1 lemon, and pepper. Mix well by hand.
Gently separate one leaf and place it shiny-side down on a work surface. Place a pinch (up to a teaspoon) of the filling on the leaf at the point where the stem joined the leaf. Fold up the bottom of the leaf over the filling, then each side inward in parallel folds, and roll up the leaf. The roll should be firm, not tight, as the filling will expand during cooking. Repeat until all the filling has been used. Place all of the vines in a big casserole one by one and use skewers in the bottom so that the vine leaves don’t burn up. If preferred, you can use a pressure cooker. No plates are needed but do use the skewers in the bottom. Add the 2 cups of water, close and cook for 15 to 20 minutes at the first pressure mark.