Stuffed Grape Leaves

In my last post, I said that if you are presented with the simple sauteed insides of a zucchini, then you should know that something more complicated is not too far away. So here it is, stuffed grape leaves (waraq ‘inab) with stuffed zucchini.

This is a labor intensive dish, especially because my family does not make it with ground beef like most people do. Instead, we are among the minority of Arabs who cut the meat by hand into tiny, bean-sized pieces (which takes a bit of time), and then mix it with rice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and spices. If you’re including zucchini, you must also hollow those out.

Then comes the actual stuffing and rolling of each leaf (about 150 for a large pot), and the filling of the zucchinis. As you make a batch of rolled leaves, you carefully line them up in the pot. This is not so bad when there are 2 or 3 people working together, but because I insist that I prepare every detail of everything featured on this blog, I took on this endeavor by myself last weekend. Needless to say, it was a long Saturday night. But I hope you enjoy the photos of my efforts. :)

The potatoes you see are used to line the bottom of the pot so that the bottom layer of grape leaves doesn’t get stuck. They are optional, and if you don’t use them, then this dish is totally nightshade-free.