- 1 packet vacuum–packed vine leaves in brine, about 227 g, drained
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bulb of fennel, chopped
- 1 red capsicum, seeded and diced
- 1 green capsicum, seeded and diced
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes, about 400 g each
- 2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
- 150 ml vegetable stock, preferably homemade light or rich
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 150 g lean lamb mince
- 1 large zucchini, diced
- ⅓ cup (50 g) pine nuts
- ¾ cup (150 g) long–grain rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock, preferably homemade light or rich
- lemon wedges
- sprigs of fresh parsley
- Rinse the vine leaves.
- Add them to a saucepan of boiling water and bring back to the boil.
- Blanch for 2–3 minutes, then drain the vine leaves and set aside.
- For the filling, cook the onion and lamb in a non–stick frying pan for 5 minutes, stirring, until the lamb is browned and the onion is soft.
- Add the zucchini and pine nuts and cook, stirring, for a further 3–4 minutes.
- Stir in the rice, mint and stock.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7–8 minutes or until the stock is absorbed (the rice will not be completely cooked).
- Remove from the heat and season to taste, then set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Snip off any long stalks on the vine leaves, then lay them out on a board with the veins uppermost and smooth sides underneath.
- (You will probably have to work in batches as there are about 40 vine leaves in a packet.
- ) Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each leaf.
- Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and roll up into a neat cigar–shaped parcel.
- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish.
- Add the fennel and capsicums and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and a little seasoning.
- Add the vine leaf parcels to the casserole, pushing the slivers of garlic between them.
- Pour in the stock and sprinkle on the lemon juice.
- Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour or until the vine leaves are tender and the filling is firm and well cooked.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs before serving.
Serves 6 (MAKES ABOUT 40 PARCELS)
Preparation: about 30 minutes, plus 15 minutes standing
Cooking: about 1½ hours