Cypriot Lentil and Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves
These have got to be one of the most addictive and nostalgic dishes that represent Cypriot cuisine. Koubepia, known as stuffed grape leaves. Traditionally Koubepia are stuffed with beef and rice but I have given this classic a vegetarian twist and substituted the meat for rice and lentils. I love enjoying them with a fresh Cypriot Cabbage Salad for a delicious vegetarian meal. We pick our grape leaves during early summer off wild grape vines which we have on the farm but they are available in major grocers or Mediterranean or Middle Eastern Markets preserved in jars for you. You can also substitute, Tuscan soft kale or Swiss chard for the grape leaves.
3 cup green lentils, cooked
1½ cup Italian style rice, (not Aborio Rice) uncooked
1 large cooking onion, finely diced
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. dried mint. or fresh mint, finely chopped
3 cup can crushed tomatoes
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup, extra virgin olive oil + 2 tbsp
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
40-55 grape leaves
3 cup vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 350F.
To make mixture: in a large mixing bowl, add lentils, rice, onion, parsley, mint, tomatoes, ½ of lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well.
To roll grape leaves: Place one grape leaf (shiny side down) on a flat surface and add 1 heaping tbsp of the filling at the bottom end where the stem is. Be careful not to overfill the grape leaf, as the rice will expand during cooking. You might need to reduce the amount of filling depending on size of graph leaf. Fold the two sides in towards the centre and then fold the lower section of the leaf over the filling. Roll them up tightly to ensure they do not open when cooking. Place the stuffed grape leaf with the fold side down on the bottom of an oven proof pot with lid. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling and fill the bottom of your pan. Be careful not to leave any gaps between the rolled leaves to prevent them from cracking open when cooking. Roll until all filling is done.
Pour over the stock, remaining lemon juice and drizzle the remaining olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper. Lay leftover leaves on top of rolled grape leaves to cover them. this helps keep moisture in them.
Cover pot with lid and bake for 45-50 minutes until the rolls have absorbed most of their liquid.
Turn off oven and let stand for 15 mins before serving.
SERVINGS 6-8 | PREP & COOK TIME 1.5 hours