Rice with vine leaves, and a pickled lemon relish

Yesterday I noticed that the wind had blown one of the branches off our table grape vine.  It needed pruning anyway, but I didn’t want to waste the fresh leaves.  The obvious use for them would be dolmas – stuffed vine leaves – but I didn’t really have time to make them, so I used them to make a layered rice dish.


I cooked some sliced onion in olive oil until it was soft – this takes at least ten minutes and preferably longer, and a sprinkle of salt helps bring out the sweetness in the onion.  For the last few minutes I added a couple of chopped cloves of garlic and a teaspoonful of ground piment d’Espelette (paprika).  I removed them from the pan, added a little more olive oil then began to layer the vine leaves and rice. A layer of leaves, half a cup of uncooked rice, half the onions, half a teaspoon of salt, half a chopped, peeled tomato, some chopped oregano and a tablespoonful of raisins. Then a layer of leaves followed by another layer of the other ingredients, and all finally covered by a layer of leaves.  I added three cups of water and cooked the rice slowly for about half an hour until all the water had been absorbed.


The vine flavour had permeated the layers of rice wonderfully and my new dish went well with a pot-roasted chicken and some pickled lemon relish.


For the relish, I used three Moroccan pickled lemons, a couple of chopped garlic cloves and a bunch of chopped mint leaves, simply mixed together.


On a grey, thundery evening the light was disappearing by the time the chicken was cooked and I couldn’t take a good photo of it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was delicious too!