Posts filed under 'vegetables'

My Grama Sanom’s Grapeleaves

This is a recipe that I have wanted to make and post on here for ages…but every time I have made them, I have either forgotten to photograph them, or not had a working camera.

Anyway, these are my Grama Sanom’s grapeleaves! FINALLY!

So there really isn’t one particular story to go with this dish. There were many stories over many years, that I hold close to my heart, and remember every time I make these. Because, whenever I saw my Grama Sanom, we would 9 times out of 10 make grapeleaves together. So this is a recipe that I remember very well. And, as the years go by without my dear Grama, I find that little pieces of her live on in me. For instance, when I look down at my hands rolling these leaves, I notice that they are indeed so very like my grandmother’s hands. And in 50 years, I can see them curling into little arthritic cups…just like hers. A painful, but perfect measuring device. 🙂

Some fond memories I have regarding grapeleaves, were things like driving along in the car with my Grama and Jiddu (Jiddu = Grandpa in Arabic), and hearing my Grama shout to my Jiddu to “Pa! Stop the car!”, and we would come to screeching halt at the side of the road, when my Grama would then calmly get out, walk to the side of the road, and start picking grapeleaves off of the vines growing on the side of the road. I would jump out and help her, knowing that my belly would soon be filled with delicious stuffed grapeleaves.

When we would get home, my grama would wash the leaves in cold water removing all the dirt and any stray bugs that may have made their way home with us. After the leaves were rinsed, it was my job to lay all the leaves out so that the veins were facing up, and trim off all the stems while my Grama made the stuffing. (Recipe below). After all the leaves were stacked, vein sides up, and stems cut off, my grama would lay them in a 9×13 baking dish and pour boiling hot water over them until they were covered with it. She would wait until they became their signature dark green color, and were wilted and pliable enough to roll. After they were tender enough, she would drain out all the water and then it was my job to pat them all somewhat dry so they weren’t dripping wet.

Once the leaves were ready, and the meat/rice mixture was ready, it was time to roll! We would sit at the kitchen table for what seemed like hours, and carefully roll out each delicious package. Stacking them up into a big pot. When they were done, she would mix up a bowl of water and tomato paste, stirring it until the paste had fully dissolved. She would then place a plate upside down over the pot of leaves, and pour the tomato mixture over the leaves until the leaves were just covered. She would throw in a few teaspoons of salt, and a little squeeze of lemon…and in around 30 minutes…we would be enjoying our grapeleaves feast.

Let me just say, that I have eaten my fair share of grapeleaves at restaurants over the years, and never have any of them come close to these. Maybe it’s just because the way she made them, was what I became accustomed to, what I grew up eating…but to me, they are even more delicious because they are wrapped up in my memories of her. And so whenever I make them, I look down at my hands…and know she is with me and somewhere up there, smiling down on me for keeping her memory and traditions going. I can’t wait to have kids and grandkids so that I can share this tradition with them.

In the meantime, I am sharing it with you! So please enjoy them!

Recipe from Mary Sanom

2 lbs. ground chuck (you can also use ground turkey, but if you do I like to add a little olive oil for some fat)
1 lb. long grain white rice
1 small onion (finely diced)
1 small green pepper (finely diced)
1 clove minced garlic
8 oz tomato sauce
8 oz tomato sauce or paste
Salt/Pepper to taste
Grapeleaves (from the side of the road! OR you can buy them in the jar at the grocery store in the ethnic food aisle, but they aren’t as tender as fresh picked!*)
1 lemon


  • Mix ground chuck, rice, onion, green pepper, garlic and tomato sauce in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I use around a teaspoon, perhaps a little more). I usually just take a little bite of this mixture to make sure it is seasoned correctly, which freaks a lot of people out to eat raw meat, but I’ve been doing it all my life, and never once have I fallen ill from this. 😉
  • Pour in some tomato sauce enough to moisten the meat. You want the meat mixture to be slightly moist, but not so it’s so wet that it’s falling apart
  • Place enough grapeleaves in the bottom of a large pot to cover the bottom of the pot. This will keep the grapeleaves from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
  • Lay out a grapeleaf with the vein side up. Place a small amount of the beef and rice at the bottom 1/3 of the leaf (see photo above), tuck in the sides of the leaves over the meat, and begin to roll up like a cigar
  • Continue rolling your grapeleaves, and laying them in rows on the bottom of the pot, which has been lined with unfilled leaves. When your first layer of grapeleaves has lined the bottom of the pot, you want to start the new layer in the opposite direction, so that the rows criss-cross each other. This will allow the liquid to get to all the leaves easier than it would if they were all going the same direction and packed in tightly together
  • Keep rolling up all your leaves, and stacking the layers, until there are no more leaves/or no more filling/or your pot is full! I never like to fill the pot more than 3/4 with grapeleaves to allow room for the liquid, the plate, and for the liquid to boil and bubble up over the leaves without spilling out of the pot
  • Once you’ve got your leaves all rolled, place a plate upside down over the leaves. This will keep the leaves from floating during cooking, and coming unrolled.
  • In the bowl that your meat mixture was in, scoop out a 8 oz can of tomato paste and mix with enough water to cover your grapeleaves
  • Pour the tomato/water mixture over your leaves until they are just covered.
  • Add a teaspoon or so of salt, and a squeeze of half a lemon into the pot
  • Cover the pot with a lid, and bring the leaves and liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, and let cook for about 30 minutes or until meat is cooked thru and rice and leaves are tender (if you have a lot of leaves, this may take longer – to test, just take out a leave from the top of the pot and taste it)
  • Once your leaves are cooked, remove from heat. Take out the plate, and start removing your grapeleaves with a pair of tongs, arranging them on a pretty serving platter!
  • DIG IN! They will be super tender and moist and full of flavor.
  • I like to reserve the rest of the sauce from the pot, and use a little bit of it to pour over leftover leaves before I reheat them in the microwave

I hope you enjoy my Grama Sanom’s recipe for Syrian grapeleaves!
Click here to see the whole photo set on my flickr!

*If you do buy grapeleaves from the jar, make sure that you rinse them thoroughly and pat them dry. Also, you CAN freeze fresh grapeleaves, but only after they have been wilted with boiling water, just pat them dry and put stacks of them into ziplock bags and throw them in the freezer. These will last you through the winter months, when you can’t pick them. The best time to pick grapeleaves in Michigan is during July, early August, when they are big enough, but haven’t been eaten by all the bugs.

4 comments February 3rd, 2011

Green Bean and Chick Pea Salad

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I don’t have a lot of time for cooking today (which is usually my Sunday pastime). So I decided to just whip up a quick, healthy salad for lunch. I love how colorful this salad is, and how fresh everything tastes.

Green Bean and Chick Pea Salad
Recipe from Julie Foxworthy

About 4-5 cups of handtrimmed french green beans (haricot vert), steamed but still slightly crisp, you do NOT want mushy beans! YUCK!
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 can whole plum tomatoes, cut into quarters (minus liquid)
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 tsp pepper (more or less to taste)


  • Steam green beans, until tender, but still maintaining a bit of the snap/crunch
  • Once green beans are done cooking, drain and pour them into a bowl of ice water to shock and stop the cooking
  • Place green beans into appropriate size serving bowl and add chickpeas, tomatoes, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper
  • Toss lightly with tongs, so everything is combined
  • Adjust seasonings if necessary
  • Serve with a squeeze of lemon and toasted pita points
  • Enjoy!

Add comment January 5th, 2009

Winter Lentil Soup

Since I am currently feeling a bit under the weather, (I’ve been fighting a cold/flu-ish type bug this past week), I decided to post about this yummy soup. Although, I’m much too tired at the moment to make it, I sure do wish I had some right about now.

This recipe comes from my friend Alexis’ sweet, adorable mom, Cynde. A couple years ago when I was laid up with a fractured vertebrae from a car accident I was in, Cynde made me food for like a week straight. This was one of the dishes she sent over with Alexis. I was SO grateful for a good home cooked meal, and this soup was incredibly comforting and delicious. I highly recommend it on a cold winter’s day, or whenever you are feeling a little blue or under the weather.

Winter Lentil Soup
Recipe from Cynde O’Connor

4 leeks, white and light green parts only
1 package frozen collard greens
1 Tspn olive oil
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
6 cups water or broth (I use chicken for more flavor)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (optional)


  • Slice each leek in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/4″ thick half-moons (about 3 cups).Place in a large bowl of cold water and swish to remove any grit (take my word for it, you’re going to want to do this step). Drain and pat dry.
  • Thaw and drain collard greens.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook, breking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the water (or broth) and bring to a boil.
  • Stir in the collard greens, sweet potatoes, lentils, thyme, salt, pepper and basil.
  • Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Spoon into bowls, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Add comment December 11th, 2008

Vegetarian Hamin

A long time ago now…my friend Annabel was teaching a cooking class and invited me to be her prep cook. At that class, she made this delicious dish. And whenever I am feeling like I need a little love from Annabel, I will make it. It’s super healthy, hearty, and a perfect dish for a cold winter’s day.

Vegetarian Hamin
Recipe from Annabel Cohen

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped in a small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chick peas (canned is fine), drained
2 – 10 oz packages frozen spinach (or collard greens) thawed, and drained
2 tsp. curry powder, or to taste
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/ tsp. allspice
salt and pepper to taste
golden raisins (optional)

In an ovenproof large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the chickpeas, greens, salt, pepper, curry powder, cinnamon and allspice. Stir until combined. Add enough water to reach half way up the mixture. Place in a 350ºF oven and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be slightly soupy. Adjust seasonings and serve alone with golden raisins OR over brown rice. Makes 8 servings.

Add comment December 11th, 2008

Roasted Yellow Squash

My brother gave me some fresh yellow squash from his garden the other day. They were calling out to me, so I decided to make a healthier alternative to my Grama Dee’s infamous buttered squash. This is what I decided on. Simple and tasty. Yum!

Roasted Yellow Squash
Recipe from Julie Foxworthy


Yellow Squash
Olive Oil


  • Wash and slice your squash into 1/4″ slices
  • Lay them flat on a jelly roll pan
  • Drizzle olive oil over the squash, add salt and pepper to taste, then flip them over and repeat.
  • Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • 1 comment August 24th, 2008


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