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Yalanchi (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

This recipe is courtesy of Elsa Larsen.
  Grape leaves 40 (1 Jar Of Young, Tender Leaves)
  White rice 2 Cup (32 tbs)
  Water/Stock 3 Cup (48 tbs)
  Extra virgin olive oil 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)
  Lemon juice 2 (I Like About 1/4 Cup Of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice)
  Pine nuts 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)
  Nicoise olives 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Red onion 1
  Mint 3 1⁄3 Ounce, minced (1 Bunch)
  Black pepper To Taste
  Salt To Taste
  Yogurt 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs) (For Dipping)

Start with the pilaf. Armenian pilaf should be never be sticky, so don’t be afraid to add some butter when making it. Rinse and unroll the leaves while the pilaf is cooking. Caramelize the onions in a pot using plenty of olive oil. When the onions are caramelized, add the rice and pine nuts and brown for about 1 minute. Add the hot stock or water to the pot, and perhaps a bit of butter. Cover immediately and turn down to low; simmer until the water is absorbed. The rice should be “half-cooked” at this point. While the rice is warm, add the olive oil, mint, salt and pepper. Stir and let cool.

Spoon one spoonful onto the center of each leaf and roll up like a present, tucking in the ends as you go. This can take some practice. The leaves should be tight and sealed. Save the damaged leaves to line the inside of the pot. Pack the leaves in a circular pattern, so that they are snug against each other and won’t move during the final cooking phase. Add lemon juice (not more than 1/4 cup) and water mixture to cover half of the leaves; the rest will steam. Add the olives. Cook on low heat, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. Arrange on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemons and yogurt.

This recipe was excerpted from the book Everything I Eat Nourishes Me: A Cookbook for Body & Soul by Aline Fourier. To see more great stories and recipes from this book you can purchase her book at

Recipe Summary

Yalanchi is stuffed grape leaves served cold. This is an Armenian specialty and always on our Christmas mezze plate accompanied by string cheese, basturma, pickled vegetables, dried apricots, and pistachios. I’ve always enjoyed them, though most kids didn’t, and for years tried to get the recipe from my grandmother – the gatekeeper of all things Armenian (odar). Since I’m half-odar and naturally suspect, I never got it until I started to rely on instinct and make my own. My yalanchi are loved by friends and most recently by my family, including my grandmother, who eventually agreed to share the ancient secrets with me. She is quite specific and likes to pick her own leaves at the edge of the golf course. I’m third generation, half- Armenian, half-Finnish, so I usually buy my leaves at an Italian market. But, like my Armenian grandmother, we do it by feel and taste, and these are just estimations of quantity. This is my version. I am an instinctive and creative person, in touch with my roots and ancestry. I enjoy making things my own.
Stuffed Grape Leaves

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Nutrition Rank

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: Complete recipe

Calories 3375 Calories from Fat 1647

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 181 g277.9%

Saturated Fat 14.4 g72%

Trans Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 14.7 mg4.9%

Sodium 2182.5 mg90.9%

Total Carbohydrates 386 g128.7%

Dietary Fiber 43.1 g172.3%

Sugars 27.6 g

Protein 51 g101.1%

Vitamin A 759.4% Vitamin C 177%

Calcium 106.1% Iron 133.3%

*Based on a 2000 Calorie diet

Yalanchi (Stuffed Grape Leaves) Recipe, Stuffed Grape Leaves