Stuffed vine leaves are usually rolled, but we have folded ours to make them easier to prepare. These oven-baked versions look beautiful, plus they get a bit crisp at the edges, which makes them extra delicious.
- splash of mild olive oil
- 300 g (10½ oz) cherry tomatoes, on the vine
- 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) white Turkish cheese (beyaz peynir, see Notes)
- 75 g (2¾ oz) black wrinkly olives
- 16 large preserved vine leaves (see Notes)
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- 1 tbsp sumac
- pinch of sea salt flakes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Grease a baking tray with a little olive oil. Divide the tomatoes into 8 portions. Cut the cheese into small cubes. Pit the olives. Remove the vine leaves from the jar, rinse in cold water and dab carefully with paper towel to dry.
- Form 1 larger leaf from 2 vine leaves by laying them next to each other, stems together and edges slightly overlapping. Place a portion of cherry tomatoes, and some of the cheese and olives in the centre of the large vine leaf, sprinkle with a little dried mint and sumac, then fold into as tight a parcel as possible. Repeat the process with the remaining vine leaves and filling ingredients. Arrange the vine leaf parcels onto the prepared baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
- Drizzle the vine leaf parcels with oil and bake in the middle of the oven for 5–8 minutes, until the edges of the parcels begin to crisp up. These are delicious served as a starter or for lunch, and they would also take pride of place as part of a mezze or buffet.
• Beyaz peynir can be purchased from Turkish delicatessens.
• To make preserved vine leaves, blanch them briefly in salted water, pat dry, pile them on top of one another in batches and freeze each batch in plastic food bags. They can also be purchased from Turkish delicatessens or supermarkets in Australia.
Recipe and images from Under the Mediterranean Sun by Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol, Smith Street Books, RRP $55.00.