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Sarma – Turkish Stuffed Grape Leaves (Vegan)

‏Stuffed grape leaves are a common Mediterranean dish you can find throughout all regions of Turkey as well as other countries such as Greece. Depending on where you are, the recipe will vary. This version – taught to me by my mother-in-law– has no meat and originates from Eastern Turkey. In Turkish it is called “sarma.”

If you frequent a Mediterranean fast-food style restaurant, you’ve probably had the meatless stuffed grape leaves that come from a can and tastes like a minty-pickle. If that’s the only version you’ve ever had, you’re going to like this much better!

The recipe calls for red pepper paste (salca) but you can sub with tomato paste. Traditionally, this recipe also calls for sumac syrup but you can easily skip and still have a nice result. You should also rinse your grape leaves with water because they are salty from sitting in the brine.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of washed rice
  • ½ cup of pine nuts
  • ~3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper or tomato paste
  • 1 – 1½ lemons
  • 1 jar of grape leaves
  • ~3-4 cups of water

Take all of the ingredients except for the grape leaves and water, and mix well in a bowl. Remove grape leaves from the jar and lay them out on a flat surface.

Take one leaf and spread out. Scroop a small amount of the mixture into the center of the leaf.

This recipe uses a LOT of olive oil. You may think, “this has to be a mistake, the olive oil is pooling.” No, it’s not. Just give it a stir and scoop.

Start by folding in the sides of the grape leaf, then fold from the bottom and continue rolling up until you reach the end. Repeat until you’ve run out of your stuffing mixture.

Once you’ve finished rolling, start placing your rolls into a wide pan. Place them in a circle as shown below.

Next, take a small plate and place on top of the rolls. This will hold them down as they cook.

Bring around 3-4 cups of water to boil in a kettle. Pour over into the pot so that the water is just covering the edge of the plate.

Turn heat up to high. Squeeze another ½ lemon into the water and cover. When water is bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for approximately 30 minutes.

When finished cooking, pour out any excess water and remove the plate.

Allow to cool for several minutes, then place on a large plate. Enjoy hot or cool.

Sarma - Turkish Stuffed Grape Leaves (Vegan)

Dinner, Small Bites Turkish, Mediterranean
By Janice Yucel Serves: 5-6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 30 Minutes Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of washed rice
  • ½ cup of pine nuts
  • ~3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper or tomato paste
  • 1 - 1½ lemons
  • 1 jar of grape leaves (rinse with water first)
  • ~3-4 cups of water

Instructions

1

Take all of the ingredients except for the grape leaves and water, and mix well in a bowl.

2

Remove grape leaves from the jar and lay them out on a flat surface.

3

Take one leaf and spread out. Scroop a small amount of the mixture into the center of the leaf.

4

Start by folding in the sides of the grape leaf, then fold from the bottom and continue rolling up until you reach the end. Repeat until you’ve run out of your stuffing mixture.

5

Once you’ve finished rolling, start placing your rolls into a wide pan. Next, take a small plate and place on top of the rolls.

6

Bring around 3-4 cups of water to boil in a kettle. Pour over into the pot so that the water is just covering the edge of the plate. Turn heat up to medium high.

7

Squeeze another ½ lemon into the water and cover. When water is bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for approximately 30 minutes.

8

When finished cooking, pour out any excess water and remove the plate.

9

Allow to cool for several minutes, then place on a large plate.

10

Enjoy hot or cool.

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