Makes about 40
3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp
1 cup finely chopped onions
2/3 cup uncooked long or medium grain white rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts (pignolia)
1/4 cup dried currants (okay to substitute raisins)
sprinkling of dill
40 preserved grape leaves (Krinos brand found in supermarket) Fresh can be dropped in boiling water for one minute, then quickly cooled with cold water).
2 tbsp cold water
In a heavy 10-12" skillet, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add onions and stirring frequently, cook for 5 minutes, or until they are soft and transparent but not brown. Add rice and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes or until the grains are coated with oil. Do not let them brown. Pour in water, add salt and a few grindings of pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. In a small skillet, heat a bit of olive oil and in it cook the pine nuts until they are a delicate brown. (You can also just toast the pine nuts very quickly--they burn easily.) Add them to the rice, then stir in the currants and dill.
In a large pot, bring 2 qts of water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the preserved grape leaves and immediately turn off the heat. Let them soak for 1 minute, then drain in a sieve and plunge into a bowl or pan of cold water to cool quickly. Gently separate leaves and spread them, dull sides up, on paper towels to drain.
Layer the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart casserole with leaves. Following the directions opposite, stuff each of the remaining leaves with small amount of the rice mixture. Fold sides of leaves in over the rice and then roll up rest, covering all the rice. Stack the stuffed leaves, side by side and seam sides down, in layers in the casserole. Whisk together 2 tbsp water with 1 tbsp oil and sprinkle it over the stuffed leaves to keep them from getting dry looking as they cook. Place the casserole over high heat for 3 minutes, reduce the heat to lowest and simmer, tightly covered for 50 minutes. Then uncover and cool to room temperature.
To serve, arrange the stuffed grape leaves attractively on a platter or individual plates, sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with lemon wedges.
Recipe adapted from Time-Life Foods of the World Middle Eastern Cooking