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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stuffed

Back in the Pixie-Patch, the lettuce is getting ready to take over, and demand a bigger share of the garden plot...no, really! See how much of it I picked just today?


Something other than salad had to be done. After pulling out my go-to book when it comes to produce from the garden that is threatening to take over (The Victory Garden Cookbook), I discovered a marvelous use-up recipe for the lettuce!  As you know, I adore ethnic foods of any kind, and the recipe I found was an adaptation of Greek stuffed grape leaves (Dolmades, or Dolmas), that used lettuce, instead of the grape leaves. I thought it was an inspired idea, and set about making it.  First, one cooks rice for five minutes (blanching)  in boiling water, just to partially cook it. I used chicken stock, however, water or vegetable broth would work quite nicely..here's mine getting its "blanch" on....


Then, we drain the rice, and save the broth, as we will have it to pour over the stuffed leaves, later....


Then, we ever-so-quickly (one minute) blanch the lettuce leaves in boiling, salted water...here's how fast that one went....



I quickly ran them under cold water to stop the cooking, dried them, and neatly stacked them to prepare for filling - it was a delicate, fiddly business, but worth it because when it came to stuffing time, I simply peeled the next leaf off the stack...


Okay...our rice is blanched and draining, our leaves as well, time to get our "stuff" together for our stuffing...hahahaha...clockwise from bottom left, finely chopped walnuts, onions, butter, sugar (organic), lemon juice (salt & pepper in the center), the lettuce leaves, and fresh dill and parsley from the garden, minced fine.



The onion gets sauteed with the butter, sugar, salt & pepper. I thought it looked like too much pepper, then remembered that it has to season all that rice in the stuffing!


Then, we combine the now-tender onions with the drained rice, and all other ingredients except the actual lettuce to be stuffed...



Now comes the tricky/fun part....lay the leaves, one by one on a plate, and spoon in a generous teaspoon of the filling...remember that the rice  will expand as it cooks...



Place it on the wide end of the leaf, like this.....



Roll up the sides, so that the rice is concentrated toward the middle of the lettuce leaf....


Then, gently roll it into a tight little bundle-o-flavor, like this...


Continue on in this fashion until you are exhausted and your fingers want to drop off, all are finished, and place in the same (cleaned-out) pan you used to saute' the onions in, no need to dirty additional cookware!



They are not perfect...but I don't care, they are to EAT! Carefully pour water, chicken stock, or vegetable broth down the sides until the little rolls are just barely covered, and simmer for thirty minutes until the rice is cooked. Lift out with a slotted spoon, and place on a plate to cool.



I also tipped the plate after this, to drain off the rest of the broth. When cooled a little bit, plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. The results?


The flavor was amazing! AND.....I will never spend five dollars for a jar of grape leaves, again! The texture was spot on, and will probably get even better, when stored overnight with a little olive oil on top, like this...


Three more of those were eaten before I could bring myself to put it in the fridge...they're addictive! Please leave a comment with your email address (unless I already know you), if you'd like this incredible recipe. I'm quite certain that these could be made with nutritious brown rice, quinoa, couscous, or bulgher wheat as well! My only concern is that I have so much of the delicious filling left....hmmmm....that Napa cabbage innocently sitting in the fridge begging to be stuffed is where I will go with that extra, delicious mixture. I'll post a photo of it, and let you know how it tasted!  This, however was simply wonderful!  What did Kitchen Angel think?  She was out in the garden, trying to be "Pixie's Little Helper", and I had to teach her the patience involved in waiting for a green bean to become full-size!




Patience, my dear! Eat well (and inventively), my friends. Love and kindness to all,

                                                                           Pixie

2 comments:

  1. I love this! Sometimes, even though I love salad, I get tired of using lettuce to just make salads. This is a great idea. Please send me the recipe. Great job, and thank you for posting!

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  2. Thank you Kristen, it's on the way! :)

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