With the grape season, which lasts between August and October, in full swing, finding delicious recipes using grapes is of course a top priority. While we love a good sleep-inducing grape smoothie recipe or a grape-infused homemade sourdough bread, know that the plant’s leaves are another flavor-packed, nutrient-dense way to eat the fruits of your vine-growing labors.
Here we’ve rounded up some of the most delicious grape leaf recipes you can make this season and beyond, and why adding grape leaves to your diet is a boon for your gut, bones and overall health.
Health Benefits of Grape Leaves, According to a Registered Dietitian
According to Marisa Silver, MS, RDN of Vivrant Nutrition, grape leaves are incredibly nutrient dense. “First, research shows that grape leaves are high in antioxidant compounds composed of flavonoids and phenols, which may be anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, antiatherogenic, antiallergic, antiulcer, antimicrobial, antiarthritic, and anti-inflammatory,” she says. “Grape leaves are also packed with vitamins, including vitamin K, which is important for bone health and blood clotting; Vitamin C, which promotes iron absorption, immunity and tissue repair; [and] Vitamin A, essential for cell growth regulation, healthy eyes and bones, and immune function.”
In addition to these three essential vitamins, grape leaves also contain many gut and bone benefits. “The leaves contain fiber, which is important for gut health, normal digestion and blood sugar control,” says Silver. “Grape leaves also have important minerals that promote bone health, like calcium, magnesium, and manganese.” Finally, Silver adds that the “mighty” leaves contain iron, B6, riboflavin, folic acid and copper. Talk about a microphone drop.
The Best Ways to Consume Grape Leaves to Reap the Most Benefits
According to Silver, grape leaves can be bought in cans or bottles at the supermarket. Or you can pick up a 16-ounce jar on Instacart for just under $10. If you’re using grape leaves in jars, she says it’s best to rinse them to remove excess sodium, which is used for preservation. Now, if you happen to come across fresh, raw grape leaves, Silver says the best way to cook them is to briefly steam or blanch them in boiling water or steam, also known as scallops. FYI: To keep your grape leaves from overcooking, you can always “shock” them, which means you can quickly stop the cooking process of blanched foods by dunking them in ice water. (And in case you’re wondering, you can eat them raw, too, but they might not be as flavorful as cooked and soaked.)
Some of Silver’s favorite ways to eat grape leaves are stuffing them with high-protein fillings like ground beef, turkey, or chicken, and adding even more nutrient-dense ingredients like cooked veggies and spices. “My favorite vine leaf filling is a roast made with onions, ground chicken, crumbled feta cheese, and spinach,” she says. fainting.
3 delicious recipe ideas for grape leaves
1. Vegetarian stuffed grape leaves
This vegetarian stuffed vine leaf recipe from Alpha Foodie is a nod to the traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish known as dolmas. This take on the dish is a vegetarian and herb-infused rice filling used to stuff the leaves, which are then rolled into small logs.
Get the recipe: Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
2. Grape leaf pilaf
If you’re tired of eating plain rice, this Grape Leaf Pilaf recipe from Dimitra’s Dishes is the perfect solution. According to the recipe developer, it’s a deconstructed version of a popular Greek dish called dolmadakia. Best of all, it only takes 30 minutes to prep, which is ideal for a high-protein weeknight dinner.
Get the recipe: Grape Leaf Pilaf: Greek Deconstructed Dolmadakia
3. Spicy Vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves
Turn up the heat with this flavorful vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves recipe from Full of Plants, made with ingredients like chili powder, ground paprika, and cumin. Plus, it’s packed with protein thanks to the lentils, which contain 17.9 grams of protein per cup cooked.
Get the recipe: Spicy Vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves
Need weekday recipe ideas? This Anti-Inflammatory Raw Celery Salad Might Help: