Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stuffed Grape Leaves~ Tzatziki ~Tabouli

Mark's Amaaazing Stuffed Grape Leaves

It's becoming a tradition now to pick the fresh spring leaves from our grape vines, finding just the perfect ones to make these wonderful stuffed grape leaves.  Our great friend Mark has shared his recipe for these.  Truly, they are the best tasting stuffed grape leaves I have ever had.  All of our friends agree. 

Mark and I usually make a day of it (just an expression, it only takes about an hour to roll these) and make about 125 of them, by the end of the project there are only about 100 left.  The missing 25 go to us along with a few beers just to make sure they are perfect.  They always are.  He has graciously shared his recipe for all of us!  To serve along side, I have made a Tzatziki Sauce although I have to tell you, they don't need it.  They are fabulous just by themselves.

The grape leaves are picked, the hard part of the vein removed, stacked in groups of 25 then vacuum sealed and frozen for later use throughout the year. If you want to use your fresh picked leaves right away, rinse and steam them for just a moment to make them pliable.  If they are frozen fresh, that will be enough to make them pliable for use and steaming them is not necessary.  On the other hand; if you don't have access to fresh grape leaves; Marzetti makes a good product of grape leaves rolled and packed in brine.  Just be sure to rinse them well before use.

Just place about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce of the meat filling (depending on the size of the leaf) at the stem end of the leaf.  Fold leaf sides over filling and roll tightly.  Place tip of the leaf side down in a large stock pot alternating the direction of the rolled grape leaf layers.  You will want to place them together a little snug but not to tight, just to help keep them rolled during the cooking process.

Perfect size! 
Don't be tempted to over fill them.

Stuffed Grape Leaves, Mark Cross
The Chef In My Head
Makes approx 115-125

3 pounds ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
2 T salt
2 T freshly ground black pepper
2 T ground cinnamon
2 T ground allspice
3-15 oz bottles RealLemon Juice
2-15 oz cans dice tomatoes
1-48 oz carton good quality chicken stock
125 fresh picked grape leaves or the equivalent in jarred grape leaves

In a small bowl combine all the seasonings.  Place the uncooked rice in a large bowl, combine the seasonings well with the rice.  Add to that the ground sirloin and ground chuck.  Using clean hands, combine the rice mixture along with the meat until distributed well.  Careful not to over handle the meat/rice mixture.

Place a small amount (1/2 to 3/4 oz) of meat/rice mixture at the base of one grape leaves.  Fold sides of leaf over meat/rice mixture and roll tightly.  Place rolled grape leaves in large stock pot alternating their direction as you add layers.  When completed; add diced tomatoes to the top of the large stock pot over the rolled grape leaves.  Pour enough chicken stock to just cover diced tomatoes.  Place a heat-proof plate over the surface of the tomatoes to keep grape leaves from floating as they cook.  Cover with lid and cook over med heat for 35 minutes.  Note:  Time starts when you turn the heat on.

Remove lid and lift up one side of the plate with tongs (Be careful, it's very hot).  Add lemon juice until you see it come up into the tomatoes.  Replace plate, cover and continue to cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove lid and plate to allow to cool.  These are terrific hot out of the pot and can be served warm or cooled.  Grab a couple of ice cold beers and sample to make sure they are just perfect for your guests.  You should have about a 100 left to serve to them!  The tomatoes taste fabulous, be sure to serve them with the stuffed grape leaves.  Enjoy!

Delicious Stuffed Grape Leaves

As I said, I made a Tzatziki Sauce.  I love the fresh bright flavors of this sauce.  It is a breeze to make.  You will want to make it a couple of hours ahead of time to give the ingredients a chance to marry for a while.  Serve chilled with Stuffed Grape Leaves, Naan Bread or any of your favorite Greek or Lebanese foods.  I think this would also be a great sauce spread on bread for Cucumber Tea Sandwiches!

Cool Refreshing Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce (Yogurt, Cucumber, Garlic Sauce), The Chef In My Head

1-16oz  container Greek Yogurt
4-6 cloves garlic very finely minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 of a large cucumber, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Combine all ingredients, cover and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Tabouli, healthy and bright with flavor!

Tabouli, Mark Cross
The Chef In My Head

1-1/2 C cracked wheat (Bulgar Wheat)
1/3 C ice cold water
2 packed cups curly or flat leaf parsley, washed, dried, stems removed and chopped
1/2 C small diced white onion
2 med tomatoes, small diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and small diced
2 T chopped fresh mint or 1 tsp dried mint
1 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Place cracked wheat in med. size bowl.  Add water, stir to combine.

Add remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate.  Prepare preferably the day before or at least 4 hours prior.  Serve chilled.  Enjoy!

Print this Recipe


  1. Hi, I cohost a foraging recipe challenge called Wild Things, and the featured ingredient for the month of August is grape (leaves and fruit). I, too, love to pick my own grapes leaves to stuff, and look forward to it every year. I'd love to feature your recipe as part of the round up. If you'd like your recipe to appear as part of the collection, could you please email your link to

  2. I am making this tonight but used ground lamb. It's still on the stove cooking. The other thing I done was use fig leaves instead of grape leaves.


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