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Stuffed Vine Leaves With Garlic Yogurt (Mediterranean Appetizers)


An old Greek recipe which comes in many guises. This meatless version is highly flavored with fresh herbs, lemon and a little chili.

PREP TIME: 40 min
COOK TIME: 45 min
READY TIME: 1 h 25 min
CALORIES: 141 Kcal (per 100 g)
CUISINE: Mediterranean

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  • 8 oz (225 g) packet preserved vine leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley
  • 10 large mint sprigs, chopped
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) crushed dried chilies
  • 1½ tsp (7.5 ml) fennel seeds, crushed
  • Scant 1 cup (6 oz/175 g) long grain rice
  • ½ cup (4 fl oz/ 120 ml) olive oil
  • ⅔ cup (¼ pint/150 ml) thick natural yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt
  • Lemon wedges and mint leaves to garnish (optional)


1 Rinse the vine leaves in plenty of cold water. Put in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly.


2Mix together the onion, spring onions, parsley, mint, grated lemon rind, crushed chilies, fennel seeds, rice and 1½ tbsp (25 ml) of the olive oil. Mix thoroughly and season lightly with salt.


3 Place a vine leaf, veined side facing upwards, on a work surface and cut off any stalk. Place a heaped teaspoonful of the rice mixture near the stalk end of the leaf.

4 Fold the stalk end of the leaf over the rice filling, then fold over the sides and carefully roll up into a neat cigar shape.

5 Repeat with the remaining filling to make about 28 stuffed leaves. If some of the vine leaves are quite small, use two and patch them together to make parcels of the same size.


6 Place any remaining leaves in the base of a large heavy-based saucepan. Pack the stuffed leaves in a single layer in the pan. Spoon over the remaining oil then add about 1¼ cups (½ pint/300 ml) boiling water.

7 Place a small plate over the leaves to keep them submerged in the water. Cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 45 minutes.

8 Mix together the yogurt and garlic and put in a small serving dish. Transfer the stuffed leaves to a serving plate and garnish with lemon wedges and mint, if you like. Serve with the garlic yogurt.


To check that the rice is cooked, lift out one stuffed leaf and cut in half. The rice should have expanded and softened to make a firm parcel. If necessary, cook the stuffed leaves a little longer, adding boiling water if the pan is becoming dry.