Vegetarian Grape Leaves – A guilt-free and well-known dish that can be served as an appetizer or as a main dish, vegetarian grape leaves!
It’s a wonderfully light, but satisfying meal. I made this recipe quicker by using the pressure cooker- an instant pot!
Vegetarian Grape Leaves is tangy and soaked in juices of olive oil, lemon, veggies, and spices. This dish is quite easy in terms of the level of difficulty, but it is a bit time-consuming and even tedious.
Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves
If you are a skeptic, just look below and see the beautiful results of my grape leaves! The rolling is a satisfying task especially when the final results of this savory dish are reaped.
What Is Vegetarian Grape Leave
Grape leaves dish is a healthy option to serve to your family. Your kids will enjoy vegetables wrapped in delicious tender grape leaves.
They are high in fiber and low in calories. It is rich in vitamins K and A with a high level of antioxidants. What a healthy savory dish!
It is one of the main dishes in Lebanese mesa. It pairs perfectly with fattoush, hummus, and fried kibbeh.
Stuffing for the Vegetarian Grape Leaves Recipe
The stuffing is comprised of veggies and rice You’re making tabouli (tabbouleh/tabbouli) but with a slight variation. In tabouli salad, you add bulgur to the veggies.
In this stuffing, you replace bulgur with rice. You finely chop onions, tomatoes, and parsley and you add the rice. Then, you add the seasonings required in the recipe. These are the basic components for the stuffing!
A Tantalizing Treat for your Taste Buds!
Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
The greatest recent invention in terms of kitchen appliances is definitely the instant pot. You can control the cooking temperatures and time, unlike the old-fashioned pressure cookers.
The instant pot has become a life-saver for lots of mothers around the world. Instead of waiting hours and hours for a meal to be ready in the oven or on the stovetop, it takes minutes or max an hour or so.
The instant pot has also taken the place of other appliances such as the rice cooker.
The Vegetarian Grape Leaves recipe, though a little time-consuming in preparation, needs a mere 18 minutes cook time in the instant pot. Stove-top grape leaves would need at least an hour and a half on low heat and about an hour on medium heat. That’s a lot of time saved!
What Are Grape Leaves
Grape leaves are the leaves of what is called the grapevine plant. Yes, you read right! These are literally the leaves right off the vines that hold grapes.
They are most popularly known for their use in this dish, otherwise called dolma, Yalanji, or stuffed grape leaves. But, they do have other edible uses.
They can be cut up and used in soups, can be used raw as wrap (similar to lettuce), or in place of bread.
Grape leaves are usually brined, pickled, and canned or jarred. I usually purchase from a few different brands like Orlando California which you can find at Walmart, Amazon or local middle eastern markets! Another brand I use is by Al Afi.
You can pick your own grape leaves! Some ways to store grape leaves include dry pickling. They are intricately folded and packed tightly into airtight containers.
You can also store freshly picked leaves in freezer bags and freeze them raw or boil them for about fifteen minutes, and then freeze them. Remove them a few hours before use to thaw out.
A Bundle of Perfectly Cooked and Seasoned Rice with Veggies Wrapped in Savory Vine Leaves!
How to Stuff and Roll Grape Leaves
I can’t say there’s one special or specific technique for rolling. The one included in the steps of the recipe is great and simple.
It’s important to know that the leaf must be rolled tightly so that it doesn’t come apart while cooking. It also makes for a nicer presentation when they’re tightly rolled.
Furthermore, it’s essential you ensure that the rough side (or raised side) is facing up and the smooth side is what shows after rolling.
Another important thing to know is that you shouldn’t overdo the stuffing. This will cause your grape leaves to fall apart. If the rice is plenty and it expands from the broth, it can tear your leaf and leave you with a mushy mess.
Also, after you fold the sides of the leaf over the stuffing, make sure you slightly pull the leaf toward you as your roll. This ensures a tighter grip of the leaf over the stuffing.
It’s worth noting that you can also use a grape leaf roller if you feel nervous about rolling the perfect grape leaf. Though my personal experience is that hand-rolled are just prettier and yummier!
To Make Things Clear, Check these Images!
Put the chopped vegetables and rice in a bowl and season them.
Mix the ingredients well until veggies and rice are well incorporated.
Lay the grape leaf with the rough side facing up.
Fill in each leaf about a tablespoon of the stuffing mix.
Roll the grape leaf over the stuffing.
Fold the left and right edges of the leaf inward.
Continue rolling the leaf tightly.
This the final rolled leaf. Beautiful!
Now, stack the stuffed grape leaves in the instant pot.
Pour the broth left from the stuffing and the olive oil broth you prepared over the leaves.
After 18 minutes in the instant pot, you will get these beautiful stuffed grape leaves with all the juices infused in each bite!
How to Layer Grape Leaves and Veggies in Instant Pot
A creative way to cook this Vegetarian Grape Leaves recipe is to layer it. What do I mean you ask? Simple! Get some more yummy veggies and the added extra vitamins and nutrients.
You can layer the bottom of the pot with potatoes cut into round chip form. This also helps the grape leaves from sticking if you’re cooking in a regular pot over stove-top heat. Plus, the potatoes soaked in the succulent lemony broth are to die for!
On top of the potatoes obviously goes a layer or two of the dolma or stuffed grape leaves. Then, you can add a layer of carrots, thinly sliced length-wise.
After that, you layer with dolma and continue with every two layers of grape leaves a layer of either potatoes or carrots or mix them together.
Tips and Tricks
You have to wrap the grape leaves tightly after you put the stuffing. But, do not roll it too tight because the rice needs to expand as it cooks.
If not available, you can switch out dried mint for fresh mint.
You can also substitute red or white onions with scallions. They are fresh green onions that add much flavor to your dish.
Instead of seven spices, you can use cumin, or use both.
You can use rice of your choice. But the vegetarian stuffing for grape leaves works great with short-grain rice.
If you don’t have curly parsley, flat-leaf parsley will do just fine.
Lay about 6 leaves at once and place filling on each and roll one by one for quicker results.
If you have extra room in your pot, have extra stuffing, and some zucchini on hand, then try the following. Core your zucchini, stuff it with the vegetarian stuffing and line your pot with it.
It’s so delicious. What a great way to add even more veggies and flavors to an already flavorful dish.
To cook over the stovetop, follow the same steps but add 1 cup of water to the broth. Bring to a low boil, then cover and simmer them for 45 minutes.
One of my Favorite Appetizers! Try it Now!
Ingredients for Vegetarian Grape Leaves
Grape Leaves and Stuffing
- pickled grape leaves
- chopped onions
- diced tomatoes
- chopped curly parsley
- dried mint
- lemon juice or citric acid
- olive oil
- short grain rice
- seven spices (all spice)
- seven spices (all spice)
- lemon juice or citric acid
- olive oil
How to prepare vegetarian grape leaves
Start by soaking grape leaves in water for 15 minutes, then place in a strainer.
Meanwhile, mix the stuffing ingredients. Then, place them in another strainer and over a bowl to collect the juice. Taste it and adjust the salt if needed.
Now, get a grape leaf and cut the stem off. Lay it flat on a hard surface, rough side facing up. Fill with about ½ tablespoon of stuffing.
Fold from the right side of the leaf, then the left side, and begin tightly rolling. Arrange the leaves in the pot.
Once finished, strain the juice of the rice mixture and add over the rolled leaves in the pot.
In a bowl, add the “broth mixture” ingredients listed above. Then, mix, taste, and pour over the rolled leaves placed in the pot.
Set pressure cooker on rice mode for 18 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although there are many variations of grape leaves from different countries, vegetarian grape leaves are vegan yes! The stuffing consists of ingredients like rice, onions, tomatoes and parsley with spices and lemon.
You can freeze them yes! Gently tie up a group of the “pre-cooked” grape leaves then wrap with parchment paper. Place in a zip lock bag and freeze! I have tried this method and it works perfectly 🙂 Great question
What a great idea! Freshly picked grape leaves have an extra flavor. Choose medium-size leaves. Since they are still fresh and hard to fold, you have to soak them in hot water for a few minutes before you use the. This way it will be easier for you to roll them over the stuffing.
Recipes You Might Want to Try
- Cauliflower Tahini Bake
- Greek Salad on Naan Bread
- Tomato Parmesan Spaghetti
- Apple Crisp
- Red Lentil Soup
- Beef and Broccoli Sweet Potatoes
- Layered Chicken Biryani
- Best Chicken Gallaba
- Spicy Potato and Cilantro (Batata Harra)
- Instant Pot vs. Rice Cooker
Vegetarian Grape Leaves
Grape Leaves and Stuffing
- 1 jar pickled grape leaves
- 1 ½ cups short grain rice
- 3 medium tomatoes finely diced
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 bunch curly parsley finely, chopped
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon seven spices (all spice)
- ½ tablespoon dried mint
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 large lemon juice or 1 teaspoon citric acid
- ⅙ teaspoon seven spices (all spice)
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- ½ cup lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Soak grape leaves in water for 15 minutes, then place in strainer.
- Mix together the washed and drained short-grain rice, dices tomatoes, onion, chopped parsley, olive oil, salt, seven spices, mint, and lemon. Taste it and adjust the salt if needed.
- Be sure to save the juice of the rice and veggies mixture since you will use it to cook the grape leaves. You can place the rice and veggies in a strainer over a bowl to collect the juice or once you are finished rolling the grape strain the juice over the rolled grape leaves in the pot.
- First, cut the small stem off the grape leaf then lay it flat on a hard surface, rough side facing up. Fill with about ½ tablespoon of stuffing.
- Fold over the grape leaf to cover the stuffing and roll in once tightly.
- Then, fold in from the left and right and continue rolling tightly. Place it in the instant pot or you can place it on a regular stovetop to cook over the stove.
- Once finished, strain the juice of the rice mixture and add over the rolled leaves in the pot.
- In a bowl, add the “broth mixture” ingredients listed above then mix, taste, and pour over the rolled leaves placed in the pot.
- Set pressure cooker on brown rice mode for 18 minutes high.
- Serve and enjoy.
Jeehan Sadiq says
I never realize that I could make grape leaves using an instant pot! I tried them for the first time and they came out perfect thanks.
Sandy G. says
I’m looking forward to trying this vegetarian grape leaves recipe. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make it
I hope you try it and enjoy it! 🙂
Hi. Does the rice need precooking, or are the leaves stuffed with raw rice? Thanks.
Hi Sue! The rice for grape leaves should be raw and not precooked 🙂 please let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks for the quick response. I’ve always sauteed onions and par-cooked the rice before stuffing. Can’t wait to make them in the IP.
I hope they turn out great for you!! 🙂
Looks delicious, reminds me of what my Mum used to cook for my Turkish father, but it took ages and wasn’t vegetarian. I’m thinking of giving it a try in my Instant Pot but I only have basmati rice – can that be used instead of short grain?
Typically short grain rice is the best option, although long grain will work it won’t fill the grape leaf as well as the short grain will. Short grain also soaks up flavor better than long grain in recipes that call for stuffing like this one 🙂 Hope that helps!
I made this recipe today!!! The grape leaves tasted phenomenal!…. I wonder if I can freeze them. If yes do you recommend freezing before or after cooking?
Happy to hear! You can freeze yes! Gently tie up a group of the pre-cooked grape leaves then wrap with parchment paper. Place in a zip lock bag and freeze! I have tried this method and it works perfectly 🙂 Great question
I’ve always wondered how these are made…they look so delish!!! Thank you for sharing this detailed recipe. Will def try it
My favorite Lebanese dish. Took less time in the instant pot. It’s worth trying