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Lamb-stuffed vine leaves

Ingredients

  • 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
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 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

Preparation

  1. Rinse the vine leaves.
  2. Add them to a saucepan of boiling water and bring back to the boil.
  3. Blanch for 2–3 minutes, then drain the vine leaves and set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the zucchini and pine nuts and cook, stirring, for a further 3–4 minutes.
  6. Stir in the rice, mint and stock.
  7. 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).
  8. Remove from the heat and season to taste, then set aside to cool slightly.
  9. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  10. Snip off any long stalks on the vine leaves, then lay them out on a board with the veins uppermost and smooth sides underneath.
  11. (You will probably have to work in batches as there are about 40 vine leaves in a packet.
  12. ) Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each leaf.
  13. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and roll up into a neat cigar–shaped parcel.
  14. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish.
  15. Add the fennel and capsicums and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  16. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and a little seasoning.
  17. Add the vine leaf parcels to the casserole, pushing the slivers of garlic between them.
  18. Pour in the stock and sprinkle on the lemon juice.
  19. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour or until the vine leaves are tender and the filling is firm and well cooked.
  20. Remove from the oven and leave to stand, covered, for 15 minutes.
  21. 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

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Source: Soups & Casseroles
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