Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Taste of May in January

January is when I really dig into the food stores and start using up my preserves from last season. I'm tiring of winter squash and root vegetables but know that there are still many more weeks of them in my diet yet. Craving all those greens and wild foods I put up last summer, I poke around my pantry shelves and freezer, looking for a little variety to add my standard daily fair. Enter the grape leaf and sweet memories of perfect May days when I gathered them.

 Ah yes, these will do just nicely!  I thawed a stack of 20.  (I like to freeze the grape leaves in small amounts because they are somewhat time consuming to fill and facing 40 or 50 thawed grape leaves at a time is a food prep slog I'd rather avoid.  If I'm serving a large group I just take out multiple packs.)  These leaves were in perfect shape, the long months of freezing tenderizing them.
The filling that goes into stuffed grape leaves is limited only by your imagination.  Recipes abound online, especially from traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.  I have a lot of food allergies and have to make do with many dietary restrictions, so my filling was a very simple saute of acorn squash, grated carrots and zucchini, mixed with Grazing Days ground beef, cooked and seasoned.

I stuff my grape leaves by carefully separating a thawed leaf, taking a dollop of filling and placing it in the middle of the leaf.  Then I fold the base up and over.
Then the sides are wrapped up.
Everything gets tucked in and rolled up, with the pointy tip of the leaf sealing everything into a nice little package!
I then briefly steam my stuffed grape leaves and serve 'em  up!
I'm so glad I put in those few hours last spring, harvesting, cleaning and freezing grape leaves, and I will definitely savour my supply and eagerly look forward to this year's harvest.

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