I never thought about using vine leaves for something other than dolma until quite recently. My, did stepping out of the box pay off! I made the vineleaf koftas, which immediately became a firm family favorite. This vineleaf pie, uses the vineleaves in place of a crust: over and under and completely encosing a flavorful rice filling.
Tiny treasures are embedded in between the rice grains, from saffron, to sweet raisins and sour barberries, to crunchy nuts and spices. You can prepare the whole thing a day in advance, too: just take it up to the point where it’s ready to go in the oven, then cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
Ingredients: serves 6
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup barberries
1/2 cup almonds, lightly crushed
1/2 cup pistachios, lightly crushed
250g vine leaves (about 40 large leaves)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, grated
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp caster sugar
3 cups vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
1/4 tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup greek yogurt
Put the raisins and barberries in a small bowl, pour over hot water to cover, set aside to soak for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Heat the oven to 300F and roast the almonds and pistachios for 15 minutes, until crunchy, then remove and set aside.
Separate and rinse the vine leaves (take care, because they are very delicate and rip easily), then lay them in a medium saucepan. Add cold water to cover, bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, cut off and discard the tough stalks and spread out the leaves on a clean tea towel to dry.
Put three tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, and over a medium heat sweat the onion for five to six minutes, stirring from time to time, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for two minutes, stirring once or twice, then stir in the carrot and cook for a minute longer.
Add all the ground spices, as well as the coriander seeds, sugar, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for two minutes, then pour in the stock, the saffron and its soaking water, and the rice.
Turn up the heat to high, stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer very slowly, covered, for 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite. Remove the pan from the heat, stir through the fruit and nuts, and set aside.
Heat the oven to 350F. Brush a tablespoon of oil in a large, wide (29cm or so)ovenproof dish. Lay half of the vine leaves, one at a time and shiny side down, around the inside edge of the pan, so that they are slightly overlapping and their tips hang over the edge of the pan. Continue working inwards until the entire base of the pan is covered with vine leaves, then tip in the rice mix.
Level out the rice , then draw the overhanging parts of the vine leaves over the rice. Now cover the rice with the other half of the vine leaves, laying them out shiny side up and in overlapping circles, until the rice is completely covered and all the leaves are used up. Press down firmly to flatten the leaves and compress the cake, and brush the top with the remaining oil.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes, until hot throughout and the vine leaves on top are dark and crisp. Remove from the oven and set it aside to rest and cool for 10 minutes.
Serve directly in the oven dish, or invert (and re-invert) onto a serving dish. Serve warm, with a bowl of yogurt alongside.
صحة و عافية