Whole-Grain Stuffed Grape Leaves

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  30 stuffed grape leaves
Prep Time:  45 minutes Cook Time:  2 hours

Whole-Grain Stuffed Grape Leaves

These stuffed grape leaves and are layered with complex flavors and spices that set it apart from any grape leaf. They keep for quite a while and will make any meal healthier, heartier, and tastier.


30 to 35 grape leaves from a jar (16-ounces), rinsed

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon date sugar, palm sugar, or light brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3½ cups Roasted Vegetable Stock or low-sodium vegetable broth

¼ cup sorghum, rinsed in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water and drained

½ cup brown rice

¼ cup millet

⅛ cup ground flaxseed

½ cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped

¼ cup minced pitted dates, preferably medjool

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 teaspoons fresh marjoram or ½ teaspoon dried marjoram

¾ teaspoon ground roasted cinnamon, preferably McCormick

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

½ teaspoon salt


¼ cup fresh parsley leaves

2 lemons, sliced


  1. Boil 4 cups of water and pour into a heat-resistant bowl. Separate and unfold the grape leaves and soak them in the boiling water for 45 minutes to 1 hour while you start the onions (step 2) and then begin to make the grains (step 3) for the filling. After that hot soak, drain the now-tepid water and cover the leaves with clean, cold water to soak for another 45 minutes while you check on the grains and put the filling together.
  2. Make the caramelized onions and garlic: Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and stir, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are translucent and the edges are beginning to brown. Add the garlic, sugar, and salt and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for ¾ hour while you cook the grains, stirring occasionally. The onions will become a rich brown color and very soft.
  3. Make the sorghum and brown rice: Pour 2½ cups of the broth to a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sorghum to the broth and heat over high heat until it boils. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes and add the brown rice to the pot. Keep covered and cook for an additional 50 to 55 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are very tender and quite soft. Set aside.
  4. Make the millet: Add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil to another large saucepan and heat over medium-high until it shimmers. Add the millet and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until it is pale brown in color. Add the remaining 1 cup of stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25  to 30 minutes, until tender and soft. Stir in the ground flaxseed. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the caramelized onions and garlic, sorghum-brown rice mixture, millet-flaxseed mixture, walnuts, dates, parsley, marjoram, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and lemon zest until completely combined. There will be 3 cups of filling.
  6. To stuff the grape leaves: Remove a leaf from the cold soaking water and smooth flat on a cutting board with the veiny side up and the leaf tip pointing away from you. Trim off the leaf stem. Spoon 2 to 3 full teaspoons of filling across the widest part of the leaf. Fold the sides into the middle to cover the stuffing. Take the end closest to you and fold the it over the mixture, then roll the leaf like a jellyroll into a neat little bundle. Repeat with all the leaves.
  7. Place a steamer basket (a pasta insert in a pasta pot works best of all) into a medium to large pot filled with about 2 inches of water, making sure that not much water can enter the basket. Gently place the filled grape leaves into the steamer basket. Cover and steam for 30 to 40 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the water has not evaporated (if it looks like it might be, add some more).
  8. Uncover the steamer and let the grape leaves cool. While they are cooling, mix the remaining lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. When the grape leaves are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a platter and pour the lemon-oil mixture over the top. Serve garnished with parsley and lemon slices.

Kitchen Tips

These grape leaves can be made up to 14 days in advance. They taste better after being refrigerated (covered) for at least 3 days.

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