Smarter Living: Recipes

This flavorful exotic delicacy is easy and inexpensive to make at home. A classic Turkish appetizer, stuffed grape leaves are great for entertaining and are perfect to pack for lunches on-the-go as they store well for days. There are many different takes on this popular dish, but this simple recipe is the typical vegetarian way to serve stuffed grape leaves (or zeytinyağlı dolma) in Turkey.

12 servings total, with 5 rolls (about 300 calories) per serving


Photo: Rashad Mammadov/Flickr


  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 60 fresh grape leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil


To Prepare the Rice

  1. Sauté the rice, onion, dill, and mint for about five minutes (or until the onion is soft) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Pour 1 quart of broth in to the saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked.
  3. Stir in a ½ cup of lemon juice and remove the pan from heat.

Photo: Rashad Mammadov/Flickr

To Assemble the Rolls

  1. To soften the fresh leaves, plunge them into a deep container of very hot water for about 10 seconds. Be careful not to soak the leaves too long or they will lose their fresh green color.
  2. Take one leaf, shiny side down, and place 1 teaspoon of the rice mixture at the bottom end of the leaf, close to the stem.
  3. Fold both sides of the leaf towards the center, roll up from the broad bottom to the top, and place into a 4-quart wide pan.
  4. Repeat with all leaves, leaving no gaps as leaves are placed in pan (to prevent them from opening while cooking). Sprinkle with remaining lemon juice and olive oil.
  5. Pour remaining broth in to the pan to cover all of the grape leaves. Cover pan with a lid and simmer for about one hour (be careful not boil the liquid, because this will make the rice stuffing burst out of the leaves).
  6. Remove from heat, remove cover, and let cool for a half hour before serving.

These rich stuffed grape leaves would pair excellently with the Mixed Fruit Arugula Salad for lunch or a light dinner.

last revised 8/30/2011

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