Go green

September 28th was Hug a Vegetarian Day. It was merely coincidental that The Fearless Cooking Club decided to go vegetarian this month.

Cindy said that she was “afraid” of meatless fare. Then her world-traveling daughter returned home with her Spanish-Vegan boyfriend. He will be our guest chef tomorrow  demonstrating vegan recipes for us.

There are seven kinds of vegetarians. Nowadays, we hear more about vegans who exclude meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.

We are all bringing a vegetarian dish tomorrow to show our flair for the meatless. I could be a lacto-ova vegetarian; I don’t know about being a strict vegan.

I prepared a dish that includes Greek Yogurt: Grape leaf herb and yogurt pie from The Splendid Table episode on what to do with grape leaves.

We have a lovely grapevine my DH planted oh so many years ago. They are beautiful this time of year, still green with burgeoning grapes.  I was so happy to see a recipe using fresh grape leaves.

 Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Dishes from London’s Ottolenghi, Chronicle Books (2011).

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

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 at room temperature, with a dollop of fresh yogurt.

Patty’s Points

1. I can’t believe I made a recipe using the grape leaves!  Brushing the oil on the leaves softened them nicely.

2. The herbs made the dish taste so fresh. I was surprised I could make something so organic.

3. I think this was probably the most interesting dish I have ever made. Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand for the rice flour staple. I will have to check out the recipes on the website to figure out what to make with the rest of the bag.