This is a real Spring recipe. You need 24 very young and fresh and tender vine leaves. These cook fast, so they don’t work with older tough vine leaves. We’re not really in grape growing country here. Some years we are lucky and get a good crop. Many years it rains right around when the grapes are ripening and they all split. Or the brush turkeys get them. But the grape vines pay their way anyhow in leaves for cooking, and for shade and cooling. Our pergola of vines is on the north western side of the house. All winter it is bare and the winter sun streams in. All summer it is a dense green evaporative air conditioning system. If there’s grapes, that’s just a bonus.
Makes 12 little pies. Two or three make a good serve for lunch or dinner, or they go well in lunch boxes. I made these in large (Texan) muffin tins, but you could also adapt the recipe for one large pie in a sponge cake tin.
Steam 24 young vine leaves for a few minutes while you make the filling. I just put them in a pot with a tight fitting lid and a tiny bit of water. How long depends on the variety and age of the leaves. Too long and they’ll disintegrate, too short and they’ll be tough. These ones took just 3 or 4 minutes steaming to be soft and tender.
In a food processor, blend together:
- 2 cups of Greek yoghurt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup fine semolina
- ½ cup packed of fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup packed dill
- 2 spring onions, whites and greens
- a good pinch salt
- squeeze of lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
If you have preserved lemon, you can leave out the salt and lemon juice and zest, and substitute a couple of pieces of preserved lemon.
You want the greens chopped fairly fine but not blended.
Oil 12 large muffin cups generously with olive oil. Line each cup with two vine leaves, stem end at the bottom, overlapping, and with enough leaf out the top to fold over. To get the nice star pattern when you turn them out, you need to put them top side of the leaf up. Like this:
Pour the yoghurt mix in and fold the leaf over the top to make a nice little parcel. Brush the top with olive oil and bake them in a medium oven for around 20 minutes till they are set. Turn out.
They are good hot for lunch or dinner with a salad and pita bread, or cold in a lunch box or picnic.