November 4, 2012
Grape leaf, herb, and yogurt pie
Page 158, Ottolenghi
Once again, I found a way to use kale to make an Ottolenghi dish. This is crucial because we have SO. MUCH. KALE. I am not complaining, mind you. The day that the kale finally really and truly freezes and is no longer a garden staple is a day of mourning around here. Much like today’s switch to daylight saving time. As a summer-loving sun worshipper of a girl, this is one of the toughest days of the year for me. It is 5:13 and fully dark outside as I write. That deserves national mourning, in my opinion. On the flip side, the day that we spring forward is a celebratory holiday (check out my post about that here https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/turkish-lamb-kofta-with-cherries-and-yogurt/ ) and without one, I suppose we cannot have the other. Oh, tricky wheel of life ( or government manipulated illusion of time, whichever).
There is still plenty to celebrate around here despite the darkening days and the sudden end of daylight at/or before 5:00 P.M. And a garden full of kale is but one!
Last week when I made the stuffed cabbage recipe from Plenty with the giant kale leaves that I blanched, both B and I noted that the kale was very similar to the texture of grape leaves, which sent me directly to the index to look up Ottolenghi’s one and only recipe featuring grape leaves. While he suggests it as a substantial snack or a light starter, I chose to pair it with a homemade rice pilaf – a version based partly on the filling from those self-same cabbage rolls that inspired me to try this recipe, and partly on a NYTimes recipe found here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/04/health/nutrition/rice-pilaf-with-carrots-and-parsley.html that uses carrots and parsley.
The grape leaf (kale) pie was DELICIOUS, and the rice pilaf made a perfect pairing. B paid it a high compliment ( I think) by saying that it tasted just like Rice-a-Roni. Other than substituting kale for grape leaves and using dry roasted almonds instead of pind nuts, the only other tweak to the recipe is that , as always, you should start with half the amount of oil that Ottolenghi recommends. He is an oil whore, and about 1/2 of what he calls for is right in just about every dish I have made.
This tastes like a lemony version of dolmas in some ways – despite the fact that there is no rice actually in the pie. It is the abundance of fresh herbs (including tarragon fresh from Gypsy’s garden!), the greek yogurt, and the lemon zest and juice that make it irresistably delicious. Try this right away, friends. You will not be sorry!
Grape leaf, herb, and yogurt pie
- 20 to 25 grape leaves (fresh or from a jar)
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve
- 2 1/2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
- 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 3 tbsp finely chopped dill
- 4 tbsp finely chopped mint
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup rice flour ( I substituted cake flour after googling to find a replacement)
- 3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the grape leaves in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Then remove the leaves from the water and dry them well with a tea towel. Use scissors to trim off and discard the bit of hard stalk at the base of each leaf.
2. Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the oil for about 8 minutes, or until light brown. Leave to cool down.
3. Take a round and shallow ovenproof dish that is roughly 8 inches in diameter, and cover its bottom and sides with grape leaves, slightly overlapping them and allowing the leaves to hang over the rim of the dish. Mix the melted butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; use about two-thirds of this to generously brush the leaves lining the dish.
4. Mix together in a bowl the shallots, yogurt, pine nuts, chopped herbs and lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice flour and mix well until you get a homogenous paste. Spread this paste evenly in the baking dish.
5. Fold the overhanging grape leaves back over the top of the filling so they cover the edges, then cover the filling completely with the remaining grape leaves. Brush with the rest of the butter and oil mix. Finally, scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle over the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the leaves crisp up and the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warmish or at room temperature, with a dollop of fresh yogurt.