My gardening goal this year is to find and plant a grape vine. Not for the grapes, but for the leaves. My parents had a beautiful vine on our fence when we lived at the Jersey shore, and we used to pick and boil the leaves to make grape leaves. Did you know you could eat the leaves of a grape vine? You can, and they are delicious.
Grape leaves are a delicious appetizer common to many mediterranean cultures. My grandfather was Lebanese so growing up we ate and still enjoy hummus, kibbeh, meat pies, zattar bread and grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb and rice. Many friends have given us the side eye over the years because this is not a normal American thing to eat. They kind of look like cigars when made.
I’ve seen grape leaves or dolmas at certain specialty stores, but they’re just not the same. We’ve tried buying jarred grape leaves in brine or oil but again – not the same. Using fresh grape leaves is the way to go so I am hoping that I can pull off growing a beautiful healthy vine this summer so that I can make grape leaves the way my parents make them.
We always eat grape leaves with this delicious yogurt sauce. The sauce is similar to greek tzatziki sauce and it can be eaten as a side dish or all by itself. We start with lebni, a strained yogurt that is sort of like greek yogurt but with a more cheese-like consistency. My mom used to make it herself by straining regular whole milk yogurt overnight with a cheese cloth.
It’s an easy breakfast or snack served with pita and olives. Today i want to show you how to make the delicious yogurt sauce which is delicious served with grilled chicken or beef.
Start with fresh ingredients. I like the cucumbers chopped fairly fine. It doesn’t have to be peeled if you prefer not to. You may also use dried mint but I prefer fresh whenever possible. Mint is so easy to grow and it smells amazing.
- 16 oz container of Lebni
- ¼ cup water
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ t salt
- ¼ t pepper
- 6 large mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 english cucumber, finely chopped
- Combine the first six ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Mix well until an even sauce consistency is achieved.
- Gently incorporate the mint and the cucumber.
Store the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The flavors continue to strengthen after mixing. Enjoy as a side dip, or topping accompanied by grilled meats, vegetables, crackers or pita. Or if you’re very lucky, with your stuffed grape leaves.
This high protein breakfast or snack has only 120-140 calories per serving and is creamy and delicious.
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