Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley,
these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home!
Ever since I’ve known her, my wife has loved all sorts of international foods. Chinese, Korean, Indian…you name it, she loves it. Thinking back, it’s kinda ironic that we ended up together as I grew up on a strict diet of American classics. I’m talking meat and potatoes here. Ok, maybe there was an occasional veggie thrown in there, too. Don’t get me wrong–I love American food! But pork chops and barbecued chicken is a far cry from various curries and stir-fried dishes. Over the past 9 years, I’ve definitely expanded my food horizons. I can’t say that I’ve loved everything that I’ve tried, but I’ve certainly added some new dishes to my repertoire. Actually, I dare say that I now crave some of those dishes, too!
A couple of weekends ago, we set out to try a Greek restaurant around the corner from our house. We’ve driven by this place a million times, but we’ve never stopped. One of our friends had given it two thumbs up, so we decided to check it out ourselves. From the wall murals of classic Greek countryside to the tasty gyros, this was a legit Greek restaurant. Oh, and it helps that their tzatziki sauce was among the best I’ve ever tasted! Our favorite dish of the night, though? The stuffed grape leaves. I think I could have made an entire meal out of those!
As a former Latin teacher, I’m pretty tuned in to ancient Greek history and culture. Sure, they didn’t speak Latin in the city-states of ancient Greece, but the Romans borrowed many of their customs from the Greeks. I mean, I spent a semester in college translating Homer’s Iliad. Why did it take meeting my wife to finally develop an
affinity addiction for Greek food?
As my wife will quickly confirm, I’ve always got something up my sleeve. I’m always planning some sort of surprise to liven things up a bit around here. Heck, with the winter we had this year, we needed something to keep us going! Since my wife loves stuffed grape leaves so much, I decided I needed to learn how to make them myself. I consulted a friend whose family is Greek. I consulted various cookbooks and the interwebs to learn as much as I could about making stuffed grape leaves. Then I hit the kitchen. It took several attempts, but I can confidently say that these stuffed grape leaves are pretty darned delicious!
We get up most mornings around 5:00am to hit the gym. (Yes, that is early. But it works for us. I like to get the workout done so I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.) As we were leaving the gym one morning recently, I told my wife that I was making a special treat for her that night. She had a curling game after work, so she ate dinner at the curling club. But she didn’t forget about that treat! As soon as she walked in the door, she commented, “It smells delicious in here. But it doesn’t smell like baked goods.” Ah, she knows me so well. Usually, a special treat means a cake…or cookies…or brownies…or some other variety of tasty dessert. Not tonight.
I pulled the tray of Stuffed Grape Leaves out of the fridge, and her eyes lit up immediately. She was impressed that I made stuffed grape leaves for her. (Don’t tell her, but I kinda made them for me, too…) Seriously, though, these Stuffed Grape Leaves (dolmades in Greek) are legit good. If you’ve never rolled grape leaves, then it might take a bit of practice. But truthfully, it’s not that bad. Just select the largest leaves and roll ’em up like a burrito. Next thing you know, you’ll have a whole tray of Stuffed Grape Leaves ready to go.
So our neighbors actually have grape vines growing up and over their back porch. I’m talking big grape vines. As in you can stand under them during a light summer shower and not get wet. Had it been a couple of months later, I could have walked over and picked some fresh grape leaves for this recipe. Wouldn’t that have been a fun twist? Perhaps I’ll just have to make these again once spring gets fully underway here in upstate New York!
Looking for a sweet treat to snack on after these Stuffed Grape Leaves are gone, try this tasty Classic Greek Baklava!