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Stuffed Vine Leaves with Summer Squash, Rice and Pine Nuts

These stuffed vine leaves make for elegant canapes. The vegetarian parcels are stuffed with squash, rice and pine nuts, then served with zesty lemony yoghurt.

Introduction

  

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Ingredients

For the vine leaves:
50 vine leaves, fresh or preserved, or a 300g packet of vine leaves
For the stuffing:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
500g summer squash, peeled, seeds removed, finely cubed
90g short-grain rice
8 fresh oregano sprigs, finely chopped
8 fresh tarragon sprigs, finely chopped
50g toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped
To serve:
200ml yoghurt
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

To prepare the vine leaves:

If you can’t find fresh vine leaves then use preserved, and make sure that they are washed and drained well. Select 40 good leaves, and put the rest to one side. Boil a saucepan of water, remove from the heat and drop in the vine leaves to blanch. After 5 minutes, remove the leaves and pat dry with a thick paper towel.

To make the stuffing:

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion for 3 minutes until just translucent. Add the summer squash and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice, combining it well with the other ingredients, then stir in the oregano, tarragon and pine nuts, and season. Continue to cook for 10 minutes.

To make the parcels:

Lay out a cooled, blanched leaf, shiny side down, and place a small amount of the summer squash mixture in the centre – just enough to still be able to comfortably wrap the leaf around the mixture. Fold the bottom edge nearest you over the filling, then fold in the two sides and tightly roll away from you into a neat parcel.

To cook the vine leaves:

Line the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan with 4 or 5 of the unblanched leaves that you put aside. Arrange the stuffed vine leaves, seam side down, in the prepared saucepan, keeping them nice and tight in layers. Arrange the remaining unblanched leaves on top of the stuffed parcels. Add just enough water to cover. Weigh the parcels down with a plate to keep them in place. Simmer on a gentle heat for 45-50 minutes.

To serve:

Combine the yoghurt, lemon and olive oil, and season. Serve the stuffed vine leaves warm or cold, accompanied by the lemon and yoghurt sauce.

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