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From time to time the words “It’s time to get back on track” are uttered by Andy and/or myself. Those words send me looking for recipes that are both delicious and healthy. Like most households this time of year this is what I find myself searching for now. I’m a big believer that eating healthy should not mean feeling deprived. These dolmas made with ground turkey and quinoa get lots of flavor from sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. Boiling them in lemon-water adds even more flavor without any added calories. They are tender, flavorful, and satisfying…and kind of addicting. I find I just want to keep eating them. I’ve made them once before to rave reviews from the whole family so I thought I would make them again.

I will warn you that while these are not difficult to make they are time consuming. The grape leaves tear easily. Unfurling them can be tedious. My advice would be to make these on a day when you don’t mind spending some time in the kitchen (about 2 1/2 – 3 hours). Pull a kitchen stool up the counter, pour yourself a glass of wine (aka chef’s juice), put on some good music, and just enjoy the process…or invite a friend over to help with the process and make it a cooking party! Leftovers are every bit as enjoyable as the first time around which is good because this recipe makes a lot. The recipe is from Eating Well magazine and is also available on their website. It wasn’t the most exciting color palate to work with. It’s a lot of army green and I’m still still playing around with the new lens so bear with me on the photos on this one. Oh…and for once I didn’t change a thing! Ingredients

  • 1 15- to 16-ounce jar grape leaves (see Notes), drained
  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
  • 1/3 cup finely slivered soft sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Greek olives
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • Plain yogurt for serving
  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Remove grape leaves from the jar and unroll. Separate into two piles—one of whole leaves and one with any torn leaves or pieces of leaves. The whole leaves will be used for rolling. Set aside the others for Step 5.
  2. Cook the whole grape leaves in the boiling water for 5 minutes; transfer with tongs to a colander to drain.
  3. To prepare filling: Combine turkey, quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, lemon zest, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  4. To assemble grape leaves: Lay a clean kitchen towel on a work surface. Place 4 to 6 whole grape leaves at a time on the towel with the stem-side up and stem end pointing toward you. Pinch or trim off any long or tough stems. Depending on the size of the leaf, shape 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of the filling into a 1 1/2- to 2-inch log and place it on the leaf, perpendicular to the stem end.  Roll the end of the leaf over the filling, tuck in the sides and roll tightly into a cigar shape. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling. (You may have filling or grape leaves left over.)
  5. Place the torn or very small leftover grape leaves in a large saucepan, covering the bottom completely; this will prevent the stuffed leaves from sticking as they cook. Place about half of the stuffed grape leaves in one tight layer in the pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Make a second layer of grape leaves on top of the first and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  6. Place the largest heatproof plate you have that will fit in the pot on top of the grape leaves. Place a small-to-medium heatproof bowl on top of the plate and fill it three-quarters full with water (this will act as a weight to keep the grape leaves submerged). Add water to the pan until it reaches the rim of the plate.
  7. Timing: Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the quinoa is tender, adding water as necessary to keep the grape leaves submerged, about 45 minutes. (To check if the quinoa is done, carefully remove the bowl and plate, take out one stuffed grape leaf using a slotted spoon and cut it open.)
  8. Carefully remove the bowl and plate, then transfer the grape leaves from the water using a slotted spoon. Serve warm with lemon wedges and yogurt for dipping, if desired.


Per piece: 32 calories; 1 g fat ( 0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 5 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars;3 g protein; 0 g fiber; 183 mg sodium; 66 mg potassium.