Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

Tender fresh grape leaves stuffed with a flavorful vegetarian filling.

I will never forget the first time I tried stuff grape leaves. I cannot remember exactly how old I was but I was a small child. It was a new taste for me. The leave reminded me of an undercooked collard green but I thought the filling was quite tasty.

Flash forward a couple of decades and I would say I’ve eaten my fair share of stuffed grape leaves in many different countries, prepared a myriad of different ways. Although they do require some time to actually roll and stuff the leaves, they are well worth the effort. I love that they can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature so there’s no need to fuss with this aspect. 

DSC06210

Traditionally, they are prepared with meat, but I don’t miss the meat when I prepare them without it. I created this recipe because I did not have meat on hand and I used bulgur instead of rice simply because I really love bulgur. 

I think that everyone that has ever eaten a stuffed grape leaves, knows them immediately when they see them. And if they are like me, then seeing them will surely bring a smile to their face.

DSC06159

Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

  • 20-30 fresh grape leaves
  • 1/2 c dry fine bulgur
  • 1 small onion (finely diced; about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To blanche the grape leaves: Clean the grape leaves thoroughly. Then prepare a large pot of boiling water. Working in batches, blanche the grape leaves for about 30-60 seconds. Then remove from the water and place into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the grape leaves and set aside.

DSC06160

To prepare the filling: Prepare the bulgur by placing it in a bowl and adding one cup of boiling water. Stir and then cover with plastic wrap or a plate to allow it to steam for 10 minutes. 

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Then add the tomato paste and stir well, adding a little water as needed. 

Then mix the bulgur and the tomato paste mixture in a large bowl. Season with the oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh parsley just until it is incorporated.

In a large stock pot, line the bottom with about 4-5 grape leaves (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan).

To roll the grape leaves: One by one, place them on a flat surface. Starting at the wide bottom part of the grape leaf, place about half a tablespoon of the filling on the leaf and spread out into a thin line. Fold in the sides of the leaf and gently roll it until it is completely rolled. Continue until all of the grape leaves are rolled.

Place each of the stuffed grape leaves seam side down in the pot, side by side, very close together. Top with the lemon slices and enough water to fill the pot half way up (but do not submerge the grape leaves. Place a heavy ceramic plate of bowl on top of the grape leaves and cover with a lid. Allow the grape leaves to cook for about 45 minutes, adding more water as needed. 

DSC06187DSC06190

Once cooked, gently remove from the pot.

Serve and Enjoy with a lemon slice.

DSC06212DSC06213DSC06210

Afiyet Olsun!

 ©All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: EE Winkler

Bazlama: Turkish Yeast Flatbread (Light, Fluffy & Simply Delicious)

A fluffy & light yeast-based Turkish flatbread, Bazlama is a classic and simple bread. Cooked until puffy and thick and coated with a little butter or olive oil, it is so delicious and perfectly compliments any meal.

Bazlama is a combination between a flat bread and a traditional bread similar in texture to Naan. It is thick and fluffy, making it perfect to serve with meals with sauces or gravy because it can soak up the excess liquid.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2eba

With minimal prep work, the dough can be prepared ahead of time and then the Bazlama can be prepared just before you are ready to eat.

Here’s the recipe:

Bazlama (Turkish Yeast Flatbread)

  • 1 c flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil +more for brushing the bread after cooking (if desired)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, warm water and 1 TBSP of olive oil.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2e9a

Then add the flour and the salt and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Then transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

With the remaining half a tablespoon of olive oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel, place it in a warm place and allow it to rise for one hour.

After the dough has risen, knead it gently again for one minute. Then shape into a ball and cut into two equal pieces.

Roll out each piece to make a large circle (like making pizza dough).

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2e9d

Place the rolled out circles on a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour and cover again with the damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an additional 30 minutes.

To cook the bazlama: Place each piece one at a time on a crepe pan or large frying pan. Allow the bazlama to cook on both sides (about 3 minutes each side on medium high heat). Note: The dough will start to puff up a lot and this is a very good sign. When it starts to lightly brown, it is ready to be flipped.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2eb3UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2eaaUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2eba

To serve, brush with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with salt (if desired).

Break bread and enjoy with your loved ones!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2b4e

 

Afiyet Olsun! 

 

Turkish Cabbage Rolls (Lahana Sarmasi) –Vegetarian Version

Savory, succulent and delicious, these stuffed cabbage leaves make a great meal. Paired with some crusty bread they’re so good for lunch or dinner.

     The first time I had stuffed cabbage leaves, my husband and I were traveling with a friend. We went to visit several of his family members and when we went to his aunt’s house we had lunch together. At first, I didn’t know what I was eating so I didn’t know what to expect but with one bite, I was pleasantly surprised. The cabbage is tender and lightly stuffed with a tomatoey meat and rice mixture. Delicious.

The first time I made them for myself, I realized that making these are indeed a labor of love. But they are so worth it in the end, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd.

My version is vegetarian but I find that they are still just as full of flavor as the traditional method of making them with meat. Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Cabbage Rolls (Lahana Sarmasi) –Vegetarian Version

  • 5-10 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 2/3 c rice (soaked and drained)
  • 3 T fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber or Aleppo pepper –if possible)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1/4- 1/2 c hot water

Preparation:

To prepare the cabbage: Remove the cabbage leaves from the head of cabbage and clean thoroughly.

Boil water in a large pot and working in batches, add the leaves to the water and cook them for 2-3 minutes (or just until they are tender and soft enough to roll).

Then place the leaves in a large pan of cold water and continue until all of the leaves are prepared.

thumb_DSC05087_1024To make the stuffing: Sauté the onions with the olive oil until tender. Then add the spices and stir well and cook for a minute or so (or until fragrant). Then add the rice, tomato paste and hot water and stir well. Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes until there is no water remaining. Then add the chopped parsley and stir. Set aside.

 

To stuff the cabbage leaves, lay out a small piece of a leaf. Cut off the hard stem part and then add about 1 TBSP of the filling in a straight line. 

Fold the sides and then roll the cabbage, being sure to continue to tuck in the sides as you roll it (as if you’re rolling a burrito).

Continue until all of the cabbage leaves or stuffing is used (whichever comes first).

In a large stock pot, place enough cabbage leaves to cover the bottom of the pot. Then layer the cabbage leaves in the pot, side by side, tightly together.

Using a kitchen weight or a “make-shift weight*” place it on top of the cabbage rolls. Cover with hot water just barely reaching the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30-40 minutes or until the cabbage and the rice are tender.

When the cabbage rolls are done cooking, drain the excess liquid and reserve* it for later. Serve the cabbage rolls immediately.

thumb_DSC05113_1024thumb_DSC05129_1024

Afiyet Olsun!

*The excess liquid is a great base to add to a soup, stew or rice. Or it’s great to dip your bread in as you eat your stuffed cabbage leaves.

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

A simple and refreshing salad with lemon juice and olive oil.

Coban” literally means “shepherd” in Turkish. This flavorful salad packed with crisp veggies and a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It is absolutely so simple to make and it is the perfect appetizer or even main course. I think you’re going to love this recipe.

thumb_DSC04985_1024

Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salad)

  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 cucumbers (chopped)
  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 c fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell) (chopped)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir thoroughly.

thumb_DSC04988_1024

Serve & Enjoy!

thumb_DSC04987_1024

Afiyet Olsun!