Friday, August 30, 2013

Ottolenghi's Grape Leaf, Herb and Yogurt Pie

This may not be the prettiest Yotam Ottolenghi dish I have made in the past several months of cooking with him but it is full of the usual great flavors his recipes always seem to have. This Grape Leaf, Herb and Yogurt Pie from Plenty, makes me think of dolmas or dolmades, those tasty little grape leaves stuffed with rice and rolled. There is no rice in the pie, but the thick texture from the yogurt and rice flour make it almost seem that there is. The herbs--mint, dill, parsley and tarragon, and toasted pine nuts add layers of flavor and texture. 

Ottolenghi says, "Whenever I walk into a bookshop I find myself in the cookery section within seconds; it's an urge I can't control. On a recent visit to a secondhand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, the capital of bookshops, I came across a real treasure, Classic Turkish Cookery by Ghillie Başan, published in 1995. This book offers a fantastic introduction to one of the world's most accomplished cuisines and it is packed full of recipes you just know you must try. It is there that I came across this unusual savory cake originating from the Turkish part of Cyprus. It makes a substantial snack or a light starter."

Grape Leaf, Herb and Yogurt Pie
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 4)
20 to 25 grape leaves (fresh or from a jar)
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (I used 1 Tbsp)
1 cup Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve
2 1/2 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped tarragon
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 Tbsp finely chopped dill
4 Tbsp finely chopped mint
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup rice flour
3 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the grape leaves in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Then remove the leaves from the water and dry them well with a tea towel. Use scissors to trim off and discard the bit of hard stalk at the base of each leaf.

Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the oil for about 8 minutes, or until light brown. Leave to cool down.

Take a round and shallow ovenproof dish that is roughly 8 inches in diameter, and cover its bottom and sides with grape leaves, slightly overlapping them and allowing the leaves to hang over the rim of the dish. Mix the melted butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; use about two-thirds of this to generously brush the leaves lining the dish.

Mix together in a bowl the shallots, yogurt, pine nuts, chopped herbs and lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice flour and mix well until you get a homogenous paste. Spread this paste evenly in the baking dish.

Fold the overhanging grape leaves back over the top of the filling so they cover the edges, then cover the filling completely with the remaining grape leaves. Brush with the rest of the butter and oil mix. Finally, scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle over the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the leaves crisp up and the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warmish or at room temperature, with a dollop of fresh yogurt.

Notes/Results: I really like the flavors in this dish--some fresh, herby and tangy from the yogurt and lemon juice. I also like how the grape leaves crisp up like the little sheets of roasted nori (seaweed) that I like to nosh on. I kept the recipe mostly as written except for reducing the oil and butter. I still had plenty to baste with and I don't feel the dish suffered at all for it (and my thighs and heart suffered less!). Seasoning was a bit tricky--I didn't want it to be too salty with the jarred grape leaves so I probably slightly under-seasoned but it actually ended up working out well with the toppings. Ottolenghi recommends topping the pie with a dollop of fresh yogurt but I had some feta in the fridge that I wanted to use. With crumbled feta on top and slices of lemon to squeeze over the dish it ended up pretty perfectly seasoned--and I think more fun than the yogurt. Trickier than the salt amount was successfully cutting and serving it--definitely pull out your sharpest knife, it's a bit unwieldy and not that easy to cut through all those leaves. ;-) This recipe does take some prep with all the fine chopping, grape leaf prep, sauteing shallots, toasting nuts and assembling, but it is easy enough. I liked it warm but it tasted even better to me cold, after sitting in the fridge. Light but satisfying, I would make this again. 

"Pies and Tarts!" is the theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. You can check out the dishes that everyone made by going to the post and following the links.

Happy Aloha Friday and have a great Labor Day holiday weekend!


  1. This has been on my radar of Ottolenghi recipes to make but I can just never seem to find grape leaves when I need them! That being said, I should totally make this the next time we're spending the day with the.boy's family (since they're greek)...I think they'll get a kick out of it!

  2. Your pie looks pretty good to me! I especially like your choice of feta cheese topping. Good to know it's dolmades-like in flavour - I'll have to give it a try now.

  3. Gluten Free A-Z BlogAugust 31, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    I'm too excited for words. I just bought a jar of grape leaves for the 1st time in 20 years and was thinking, "what in the heck will I make with them". This recipe is perfect.
    Can't wait to try it..

  4. I have long wanted to make dolmades, but have also long been intimidated by doing so. I can see the connection between them and this pie--which seems more do-able to me. The filling looks mighty fine with all the dill, mint, and lemon. Love the feta on top!

  5. Love his food so much, and I don't think I've ever used grape leaves, I'll have to hunt them down.

  6. Pam Armstrong GreerAugust 31, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    This sounds like a fun one to try!

  7. Joyce, kitchen flavoursSeptember 1, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    Hi Deb,
    This is a very interesting dish! I have heard of grape leaves being used in cooking, but have never tried it before. Using rice flour is another interesting ingredient, as I do not see this ingredient that often in Ottolenghi's recipes.
    It look great and I would love to try it someday!

  8. Deb - I think this looks really pretty with all the green grape leaves and breadcrumb topping! I'm so glad you topped it off with the feta. When I think of dolmades I always think of feta. I bet it was delicious right down to the very last slice. Great choice for pies & tarts week.

  9. Mmmm! I'm going to try this as soon as it is cool enough to turn the oven on! Looks yummy!

  10. Delicious Deb, I have never cooked with grape leaves & I am intrigued by this one. Loving your addition of the feta on top, I find a little feta brightens up so many dishes :)


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