Greek Out! Stuffed Grape Leaves

This post linked to Real Food Wednesdays. While some of the other submissions aren’t 100% Primal-spirited, I think it’s important to spread the Real Food Love, whatever the personal interpretation!

(My personal interpretation, in case we weren’t clear, is the art of Awesomeness.)

The CH and I honeymooned in Greece. I won’t regale you with all the OhMyGodWe’reMovingThereNOW details (read this post for more hot Greek action and food porn), but in short – it was the most incredible country with the most amazing food I’ve ever tasted, served in no hurry as a full-on leisure experience. Every meal was slowly enjoyed, traditionally prepared, and un. freaking. believable. We stayed Primal the whole time without even trying.

And the beaches weren’t bad either.


I mean, come on. Really? Seriously. Get me back there. NOW.


One of my favorite things to eat when we go Gringo Greek is stuffed grape leaves (Dolmathes, Dolmades, spell it however you want). We never had this dish in Greece – we were too busy trying Sifnos stewed lamb, “Pumpkins Balls,” roasted octopus…you get the idea.

But when we’re home and we need a taste of Mediterranean, there’s no slow-stewed clay pot lamb bones about it. We’re getting us some stuffed grape leaves.

These often come stuffed with rice and ground meat. The rice is helpful in making the grape leaf innards sticky, but it’s not necessary. To replicate the texture but keep this recipe grain-free, I used chopped pine nuts; I added some steamed acorn squash to make the mixture stick together a bit more.

Grape leaves are simply grape leaves (imagine that) in a vinegar/salt brine. You can get them at any grocery store with a Mediterranean section.


Lots of grape leaves
2-4 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. Ground beef
1/4 c. steamed acorn squash (optional for stickiness)
1/4 c. raw pine nuts
1 Tbs. oregano (or to taste)
1 tsp. thyme (or to taste)
1/2   tsp. mint (or to taste)


First, pulse the pine nuts in a food processor.


I heart my Cuisinart hand blender.

Set aside. Begin cooking the chopped onion in olive oil over medium heat. Once onion has softened, add chopped garlic and cook a few minutes more.

Add the ground beef and cook until most of the pink is gone. Add spices, squash and pine nuts and finish cooking.

Now, lay out grape leaves (overlap them if you want the ground beef mixture nice and snug) and place a spoonful of the ground beef mixture on top.


The grape leaves should be pliable and thin, but not easily torn.


Now simply roll the grape leaf tightly around the mixture. Picture how they do it with the burritos at Chipotle. (Not that I’ve ever eaten the tortilla at Chipotle. Er, yeah.)

Serve with slightly over- roasted parsnip chips. Grape leaves are second to none – not even boston lettuce – for their wrap-making awesomeness. Make LOTS. Kalí óreksi!


Grape leaves don't judge you when you can't speak a word of decent Greek.


6 Responses to “Greek Out! Stuffed Grape Leaves”

  1. Thanks for this post, leaving for my honeymoon in 2 weeks (Australia) and plan to stay primal..encouraging to know you did!

  2. I was just telling Bill the other day that I wanted to make a version of these! Looks delish!

  3. Where does one buy grape leaves?

  4. This is an interesting recipe. In the old days, the only stuffed grape leaves I’ve had included rice.


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