Vine leaves stuffed with brown rice and sultanas
Prep time 30 mins Cooking time 1 hour Serves 4
250g brown rice 200g preserved grape leaves 3 tbsp plus 1/2 cup olive oil 2 onions, finely chopped 1 tomato, diced 1 tbsp tomato paste 50g small golden sultanas 3 cups hot water 2 tbsp dried mint 1/4 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder 1/2 tsp allspice 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp sugar 1/2 lemon, sliced plus extra to garnish salad leaves, to garnish pomegranate pearls, to garnish
1 Wash and then soak the rice in warm water for 30 minutes.
2 Remove the leaves from the brine and carefully remove the main hard stalk from each. Reserve the stalk.
3 Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions until pink in colour. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Stir for a couple of minutes.
4 Add the tomato, tomato paste and sultanas. Stir well then add 1 cup of hot water. Stir and let the mixture cook over a low heat until all the water evaporates and the rice is al dente.
5 Take the pan off the heat and while it is still hot, add 1/2 cup olive oil, dried mint, black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, salt and sugar. Mix well to ensure the rice is well coated with the oil.
6 To stuff the vine leaves, place a leaf on a flat surface, ensuring the broad side is near you. Carefully place 1/2 tbsp of the rice on the broad side. Fold over the edge close to you, as well as the long sides, and then continue to roll until you reach the other end to create a sausage shape. (Do not roll them too tightly.)
7 Place the reserved stalks from the grape leaves at the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan to prevent the stuffed vine leaves burning.
8 Place the rolls in a single layer in the bed of stalks. Ensure there is not much space between the rolls. Put lemon slices on top and then place a small plate upside down over the rolls. Pour over the remaining hot water.
9 Cover the pan and let it simmer for 40 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Let it cool.
10 Carefully remove the rolls from the pan and serve with extra lemon slices. Garnish with micro herbs and pomegranate pearls.