Vegan Grape leaf Casserole

I love grape leaves, especially the Armenian style ones my mother-in-law makes.  She harvests the leaves herself early in the summer when they are very small and tender, then spends hours rolling each little leaf into the cutest stuffed bundles ever.  And we all devour them as fast as we can.

If you want to try the taste of these grape leaves with out the time commitment, then grab yourself a jar of preserved grape leaves and a casserole dish and get ready!

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion minced

1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

1 cup long grain brown rice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon dried veggie broth powder (sometimes called dehydrated bouillon) I love this stuff and add it to grains while they cook or I use it to make a broth to braise tofu. If you have a tasty broth on hand then that’s best, but this is really convenient.

1 Tablespoon dried parsley or 1/2 cup fresh.
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/4 cup canned tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 8 oz package of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed

{grape leaves}
15-18 grape leaves, fresh or jarred.

1/4 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup water

To do:

{Preparing the rice}
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the spices and stir for 30 seconds, then add the rice, bouillon powder and water. Simmer for 35-40 minutes. It can be slightly undercooked because it will cook more in the oven. Remove from heat and add the parsley, mint and tomato sauce.

{Preparing the mushrooms}
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the onions, cook for about 2 minutes and add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms get nicely browned. Remove from heat and place in a food processor or immersion blender. Process until finely chopped. Add to the rice mixture and set aside.


{preparing the grape leaves}
Remove any tough stems. If using jarred, then boil 6 cups of water in a large stock pot and submerge the leaves for 15-30 seconds to remove excess salt, drain in a large colander. If using fresh then parboil the leaves for 2-3 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a measuring cup combine the 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Oil a casserole dish with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Line with 5-6 grape leaves, and spread on 1/2 of the rice and mushroom mixture. Add another layer of 5-6 grape leaves and another layer of rice. top with the remaining leaves and pour the tomato + water mix over the top.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with lemon wedges or a balsamic reduction.


For an elegant appetizer dish, you can make individual casseroles using ramekins. Simply oil 6 ramekins with olive oil, lay a leaf on the bottom, top with 1/4 cup rice mixute and cover with a second leave and 2 Tablespoons tomato + water mix. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve by gently running a knife along the inside of the ramekin to loosen the casserole and flip onto a small plate.

Grape leaf casserole plate

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