by Hara Dretaki
Edible in late spring This is the season that the vine captures the cook’s heart. Its leaves, waxy and bright, are ready to be picked. You can eat them fresh as a vessel for rolled foods. Or you can freeze them by removing any moisture and laying one on top of the other in a plastic bag. They can also be preserved in brine, as described by Armen Hanjian.
A popular dish, rice-stuffed grape leaves, comes from Greece and the Middle East. Fillings vary according to the region. In Northern Greece pine nuts and herbs such as dill, mint, and parsley are used with plenty of onions and garlic.
On the islands, they stuff them with lentils and rice or rice scented with fennel and mint. For Lent, stuffed grape leaves are made with bulgur. In the Middle East grape leaves are wrapped around hummus or rice with dried fruit. And the combination of minced meat-stuffed grape leaves simmered with dried beans is known to originate from Sephardic cooks.