Stuffed Vine Leaves with Mint Cashew Aioli
I created these stuffed vine leaves after tasting the cooked version. Seeing as anything cooked can be made better raw, I just had to come up with this alternative, which I have to say really fills a gap.
This recipe will make 16+ rolls, depending on the size of your vine leaves and how much mixture you put in. Eating 2 is usually enough for me in one sitting!
I have found a sushi rolling mat (pictured) very useful in rolling nice tight leaves, and as for the leaves themselves …
You can pickle your own, which involves finding fresh ones — I found some organic ones on eBay!
You’ll then need to soak them in salt water and lemon juice. I’ve found at least 48 hours is needed to get them to turn a slightly darker green and become more pliable.
You also have the option of buying already pickled ones in a jar. It depends how you feel about this, but you should look for ones that have only been pickled with water, salt and lemon juice (citric acid).
Obviously the lemon juice and salt are not going to be as pure as the kind you’d use yourself, but it makes the whole recipe a lot more user-friendly. You have a choice!
Makes 16+ stuffed vine leaves
For the vine leaves
- 3 cups cauliflower or parsnip
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 spring onions (green onions)
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 2+ hours, then chopped into thin strips
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh mint, minced
- 1/2 cup raisins, roughly chopped
- Pickled vine leaves
- Pulse the cauliflower/parsnip in a food processor until it has a rice-like consistency. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In a high-power blender, blend the olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, cinnamon, lemon juice, sea salt and spring onions until creamy.
- Add this mixture to the rice and mix well.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, mint and raisins to the mixture and mix again.
- Now take one vine leaf at a time and place it stem-side up on a chopping board or sushi rolling mat. Place between 1 and 2 tablespoons of the mixture on the leaf, depending on the size of the leaf.
- Roll up the leaf from the bottom first and tuck in the side bits after the first roll. I find it helps to brush olive oil on to the leaf at this point to help it stick.
- Once the sides are in, finish rolling upwards to make a neat little package. You may not get this first time, but keep practicing and have fun with it.
- Continue until all the mixture is used.
For the mint cashew aioli
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon agave
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup tightly packed mint
- Place all ingredients except the mint in a high-power blender and blend until creamy.
- Add the mint to the blender and pulse in so to leave mint visible in the aioli.
- Serve with stuffed vine leaves.