I am almost sure that every culture existing and has ever existed has some form of stuffed food in their repertoire.
Italian stuffed calzone. French stuffed mussels. British stuffed leg of lamb. Chinese stuffed springrolls.
Japanese stuffed sushi. Mexican stuffed jalapenos.
Arabic stuffed dolmades, pigeon, cabbage, courgettes, aubergines, whole lamb, vineleaves, potatoes, kubba, and even cucumbers, among many others (including dessert, like maamoul).
People have an undeniable favor towards stuffed foods.
Nawal Nasrallah was perfectly correct when she included a chapter in her encyclopedia-cookbook especially for stuffed foods.This vineleaf appetizer (ورق عنب بالزيت) differs from the dolmades I have posted before in that it is vegetarian, and it may be served cold or slightly warm.
The filling constitutes a melody of herbs, walnuts, and currants and mixed in with sauteed rice and onion, altogether with a generous helping of olive oil and lemon.
3/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups jasmine rice
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp chili
3/4 cup minced parsley
3/4 cup minced dill
1/2 cup minced mint
1 cup walnuts, coarse chop
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sultanas
1 jar grape vine leaves
2 lemons, sliced
2 potatoes, sliced thickly
In a quarter cup of the olive oil, saute the onion until softened, add the rinsed and drained rice, and all the spices and seasoning (salt, pepper, allspice, chili) until fragrant.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool enough to handle.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, and mint), the walnuts, sultanas, and lemon juice.
Stir in the cooled rice mixture and toss well to distribute the flavors.
Using the same pot the rice was sauteed in, coat the base with the thick slices of potatoes (this is just in case the food will burn, it will be the potatoes that are affected, not the actual vineleaves).
Fill vineleaves with a heaping teaspoon of the filling, fold the sides, then roll up.
Arrange the vines over the potatoes in a single layer.
Place lemon slices over the rolled vineleaves, then top with another layer of rolled vineleaves, continuing to place lemon slices between layers, ending with a final layer of vineleaves.
Drizzle the remaining half cup of olive oil over the filled pot of vineleaves.
Invert a heat-proof plate over the surface and add two cups of boiled water.
The plate ensures that no vineleaves unravel during the boiling and cooking process.
Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for an hour and a half.
These vineleaves may be consumed hot, warm, or cold.