Stuffed Vegetable Leaves

Stuffed Vegetable Leaves and Tzatziki Sauce

This recipe is a variation of a Mediterranean dish called stuffed grape leaves.  We’re not growing grapes indoors (yet), but versions of this delicious recipe have been created over time that accommodate broccoli and cauliflower leaves, large nasturtium leaves, cabbage leaves, mustard greens, collard greens and more.

While the cooking does take some time, this is a simple and fun meal that will impress everybody at the table!  Just follow the easy steps below and adjust your mix of herbs and other ingredients to make a unique meal every time you use this recipe.

Consider serving this with our homemade Tzatziki dip recipe for a genuine Mediterranean experience.

Prep Time: approx. 30 Minutes. Ready in: 90 Minutes

Makes 3-4 servings.


  • ~12 broccoli leaves, or the equivalent of smaller leaves if you are using something smaller like nasturtium leaves.
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (or substitute bunching onions from your indoor garden)
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup of fresh dill
  • Half a lemon of squeezed juice
  • 1 cup of long grain rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Consider also adding:
    • Minced beef or lamb
    • Lemon zest
    • Diced tomatoes and tomato sauce
    • Allspice, cumin, and/or curry powder
    • Fresh mint or basil

First, let’s make your filling.  Add two tablespoons of oil to a skillet over medium heat.  Then add your onions and garlic until softened and slightly browned.  Finally, add your minced meat, lemon, and spices (save your fresh herbs for later).  Stir until the ingredients are cooked and mixed well.

Add un-cooked, rinsed rice, fresh herbs and cooked stuffing from your skillet into a large bowl, and mix it well.

Now trim any tough stems off of your leaves and prepare to blanch them by bringing a large pot of water to boil and having a bowl of ice water ready.  Boil your leaves for 30-80 seconds until they become slightly softer and more pliable. You’ll be using these to wrap your ingredients like a burrito, so make sure not to boil them too long or they will fall apart easily.  As soon as you take them out of the boiling water, place them in your bowl of ice to rapidly cool them and stop the cooking process.  Now lay them out and blot them with paper towels to dry off.

Cooking Stuffed Vegetable Leaves

When your leaves are free of excess water, lay them out and add your filling.  If you’ve ever made burritos before, you know that you shouldn’t add too much filling, or you won’t be able to roll your leaves properly.  Simply fold two sides of the leaf over your filling, and then roll your leaf leaving no open sides remaining.  Be careful not to roll your leaves too tight, as your rice will expand further while it is cooked in the next step.  Repeat this step for the rest of your leaves and filling.  If you have too many leaves or too much filling, you can freeze leftovers to use another time.

Rolling Stuffed Vegetable Leaves

Use two tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan or pot.  Then, place a thin coating of water  (¼ ") at the bottom of your pot.  Now arrange your rolled leaves neatly with the seam-side down, in the pan or pot.  You only want one layer of rolls, organized neatly with as little space between them as possible.  Start by placing the rolls on the outside of your pot, and work your way in.

Place enough water in the pot to just cover your rolls.  You can add tomato sauce and other herbs and spices if you’d like to add additional flavor.  You can cover your rolls with a plate to keep them in place and prevent them from unravelling. Then cover your pot with a lid and bring it to a boil.  Finally, reduce heat and simmer while covered until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.

After your stuffed vegetable leaves have cooked, allow them to cool for 20-30 minutes so that they stiffen slightly and won’t fall apart when you remove them from your cooking container.

Now, carefully remove your stuffed vegetable leaves, plate with a side of lemon wedge, and serve.  You’re going to love them!

Let’s grow together!

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published