Make mine Mediterranean: Stuffed sensations sure to satisfy

Stuffed Grape Leaves. Photos by Collin Richie.

Recipes by Lauren Westmoreland Baronet


STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES
1 (16-oz.) jar grape leaves, or about 75 fresh grape leaves, blanched
Meat and Rice Filling (recipe below)
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (16-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
Juice of 1 lemon
Spread a single leaf, shiny side down, on a smooth surface with stem end facing you. Spread a small mound of Meat and Rice Filling across center of leaf. Starting from the side closest to you, roll leaf over mound, tucking end of leaf under filling to help it stay in place. Tuck each side of leaf in, and finish rolling leaf. Arrange rolled grape leaves seam side down on the bottom of a heavy pot. Continue to arrange them in single layers until all grape leaves are placed in pot.
Cover rolled leaves with water so that water level reaches about 2 inches above grape leaves. Add butter and salt and pepper. Pour in crushed tomatoes.
Place a plate that will fit within the pot on top of the grape leaves in order to keep them stable and intact. Turn heat to high and bring water to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add lemon juice.
Optional: Place pork chops in the bottom of the pot before layering grape leaves on top, and cook as directed.
Makes 6-8 servings.

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS
1 to 2 heads green (Savoy) cabbage, cored
Meat and Rice Filling (recipe below)
Several toes of garlic (about ½ head), peeled and sliced thin
Fresh or dried mint
1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add cabbage. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes, so that leaves become pliable. Remove cabbage from pot, and set aside to cool.
Separate leaves. Place 1 leaf before you at a time and add filling across center. Roll leaf, beginning with the end closest to you, tucking end under filling to help it stay in place. Do not tuck in sides. Trim roll if necessary so that it is about 3 to 4 inches long. Place each roll seam side down in the bottom of a large pot. Layer each row of rolls with 8 to 10 garlic slices and several pinches of mint. On the final layer, add garlic, mint and crushed tomatoes.
Cover rolled leaves with water so that water level reaches about 2 inches above grape leaves. Bring water to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add lemon juice.
Makes 6-8 servings.

STUFFED SQUASH
8 to 10 fresh medium-size squash, such as zucchini or yellow summer squash
Meat and Rice Filling (recipe below)
3 oz. tomato paste
Pinch of cinnamon
Trim necks from squash. Working from top of squash where you trimmed neck, use a corer or thin paring knife to carefully remove fleshy inside. Stuff squash with Meat and Rice Filling, leaving about ½ inch at the top to allow uncooked rice to expand. Place squash standing straight up in a pot. Fill pot with enough water to come over top of squash. To the water, add tomato paste, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. You can also add squash pulp to broth and eat it like soup later. Bring water to a boil over high heat, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.
Makes 8-10 squash.
MEAT AND RICE FILLING
1½ lbs. raw ground beef, or 1 lb. raw ground beef and ½ lb. raw ground pork
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
3 oz. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients well.

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