You may already be familiar with my vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, and the pre-cooking steps of this recipe are done in much the same way. The difference, apart from the turkey filling, is that you can cook these quite quickly on the stovetop. These make a great finger food for parties, and I’ve also served them as a main with a chopped salad and dips (try tahini or the yogurt dip from my veg grape leaf recipe).
Let’s get rolling:
- A 16-oz jar of grape leaves (that’s the quantity with the brine, which translates to about 1/2 lb of dry leaves)
- 48 oz ground turkey
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped small
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp gound allspice
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
This one’s easier than it looks, I promise! Your leaves will come in rolls in a jar, so the first thing to do is take them out of the jar and carefully unroll them. Try your best not to rip them. You don’t have to fully separate the leaves; for now you can leave them in the stacks they came in, as long as you can get some water inside to de-brine them. Rinse the brine off your leaves in a colander. Shake the colander to get the excess moisture off and set them aside.
In a large bowl, evenly mix the turkey, garlic, onion, and spices together. I like the consistency of the filling to be something like a paste. Once it’s mixed, it’s time to lay out your leaves. I cover my table in plastic wrap (taped down) to keep things clean, but it also has the benefit of providing a slippery surface for rolling and then pushing aside your stuffed leaves as you finish them. Take a look at the pictures in my vegetarian grape leaves post if you’re rolling leaves for the first time.
Carefully separate each leaf from its stack, cutting off any stems, and arrange them vein-side up. Next, spoon about a tablespoon of the filling just above the bottom of each leaf, at the center. Fold the bottom up, and fold the sides in, tightly. Then grab the whole closed portion and roll it towards the end of the leaf (again, tightly).
If some of your leaves have holes, or are ripped in too many places to roll, you have two choices: you can either use them to line the bottom of your dish (see below), or use bits of them to patch up leaves with smaller holes. You can do the latter by laying the “patches” directly over the holes of the leaf before you put the filling on and roll it up.
One you’ve used all of your stuffing, arrange some of your leftover leaves in the bottom of a metal pan. This layer of leaves will prevent the stuffed ones, which you’ll place on top of them, from burning. Place your stuffed leaves in the pan, seam-side down. They should be touching and arranged tightly next to each other. Start a second layer of stuffed leaves if you don’t want to use a second pan. Combine the lemon juice and olive oil, and pour the mixture evenly over the rolls.
Cook the dish on high heat for 20-25 minutes. This should be enough time for most of the liquid to boil off, but if it doesn’t, drain the excess off when the leaves are done. The finished grape leaves should be dark green. Serve hot or at room temperature, with or without a dipping sauce. This recipe makes about 60 stuffed grape leaves.