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Stuffed Grape Leaves With Ground Meat and Rice (Video Recipe)

Stuffed Grape Leaves Dolmas

On a beautiful spring morning  in a sleepy village the air was cool and light, and a gentle breeze blew, rustling through the vine leaves, and creating a soothing sound. The village cook, Maria Burcuta, was out early to harvest vine leaves for stuffed grape leaves. These are flavor-packed vine leaves, with a stuffing mixture based on meat, rice, and spices.

Stuffed Grape Leaves Dolmas

“The first thing to do is harvest the fresh grape leaves, and if you have the time, you’ll want to stock up for the entire year. The grapevine leaves are harvested in May or June (depending on the areas where you live), before the vine blossomed, when the grapevine leaf is ripe, with a suitable size, not too big, but not too small. Choose light green leaves that do not have thickened veins. It is best to pick them before the first spray in the spring”, she said.

After she had gathered enough leaves, she stacked the leaves in piles of five, rolled up from side to side, then she stuffed them into bottles sealed with bottle cap. If stored properly, they can last up to two years.

Sarmale in Frunze de Vita

A few months later, the bottles are cut in half and the well-preserved leaves are revealed. It’s that time of year when fall/ winter cravings kick in, and who can resist the allure of the delicious stuffed grape leaves?

Sarmale in Frunze de Vita

If you had already had cabbage rolls, one of the top national dishes in Romania, then you’ll want to try this village stuffed grape leaves recipe. All you need is mixing the ingredients together for the stuffing mixture. Packing may take some time, as each grape leaf is rolled individually, but with a little patience and some will you’ll soon have everything shipshape. 


• 100 grams chopped fresh cabbage;

• tomato juice;

• about 50 vine leaves;


• 300 grams ground beef;

• 1 kg ground pork;

• 500 grams chopped onion;

• 150 grams rice;

• 100 grams tomato paste;

• a few spoons of sunflower oil;

• salt, pepper, thyme, sweet paprika.

Mix well all filling ingredients and set aside. Meanwhile, scald the vine leaves in hot salted water to tenderise them. On the bottom of the pot add the chopped fresh cabbage and tomato juice. Take one leaf and lay it flat on your palm, with the textured side facing you, take a spoon of the stuffing mixture, and roll. Fold the sides over and roll, and tuck in the left and right sides.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Arrange the stuffed grape leaves one by one in the pot, tucking them in tightly beside each other so that they will not unravel during the boiling process. Once all of the cabbage rolls have been placed in the pot, pour enough water and a few spoons of sunflower oil to skim the surface of the cabbage rolls. Place a lid on the top of the pot and boil one hour, then remove the lid and boil on a slow fire about 40 minutes.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Don’t leave unattended for too long, for the water can evaporate, causing the cabbage rolls to stick to the bottom of the pot. After 40 minutes, pour tomato juice all over the surface and place the pot to roast in the oven until the remaining liquid boils off. Serve with milk cream and pickled hot peppers.

Location: Village of Iaslovăț, Suceva County, Romania

Contact: 004 0754 531 128

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