Dolmas: Stuffed Grapevine Leaves

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After a shocking request from my naturopath to incorporate meat into my diet to combat the fertility struggles my husband and I have experienced, I’ve been reluctantly dragging my feet. I’ve been so proud of myself for creating healthy dishes that are full of flavor, diverse, and for the most part vegan with some cheese dishes that are vegetarian. The thought of preparing meat has been a bit repulsive, but I’ve committed to go with the flow and be open. These dolmas contain lamb, go well with Mediterranean fare, and are not an overpowering meat dish. It allows the meat portion of the meal to take second stage to it vegetable counter parts.

1 jar grapevine leaves ( about 30-30 leaves)
1 cup washed brown rice
3/4 lb ground organic, free range Lamb
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black peppercorns
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp raw butter
Juice of two lemons
water

Soak the grape leaves in cold water for about 45 minutes, changing the water frequently to remove the salt. In a mixing bowl combine all other ingredients except the lemon juice, grape leaves and water. Knead, max and mix the blend well with your hands, making sure that all the ingredients are well combined. Once the filling is combined, take a grape leaf and place it shiny side down and place about 1 to 2 teaspoons of the filling on the grape leaf near the stem. It helps if you roll the filling into a little log before placing it on the leaf. Then wrap the filling up, folding the sides of the leaf in so you finish with a roll. You want the rolls to hold, but don’t make them too tight. Remember that the uncooked rice will swell with water, so if the rolls are really tight the grape leaves will tear open. Layer the rolls in a sauce pan, alternating the direction of each row. Pour the lemon juice over the rolls once they are in the saucepan then add enough water to cover midway to the top row. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. They take about 50 minutes to cook up. They go great with cucumber salad, tabouli, falfel, and they are really tasty drizzled with tzatziki.

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