Meat and Bulgur- Stuffed Grape Leaves (Sarma)

In the past we’ve posted recipes for meatless stuffed grape leaves (yalanchi), which make terrific appetizers, but if you’re looking a a heartier meal, the addition of meat is the way to go. Traditionally, ground lamb or beef are the meats of choice, but to lighten-up the dish, our recipe  uses ground turkey, making it lighter, but just as tasty and satisfying.

Meat and Bulgur Stuffed Grape Leaves

Meat and Bulgur- Stuffed Grape Leaves (Sarma)

Yield: approximately 30 pieces
Sauce Ingredients:
1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
1 can water (same can from tomatoes)
 2/3 of 6-oz. can of tomato paste (reserve the rest for the filling)
juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the juice from the other ½ lemon
for the filling)
½ tsp. allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 packet no sodium beef bouillon
Sauce Directions:
Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl.
Set aside until ready to cook.
Meat-Bulgur Filling:
1 (1 ¼ lb.) package ground turkey (93% lean / 7% fat) – uncooked
(NOTE: Beef and/or lamb are traditionally used.)
1/2 cup #2 bulgur (½ cup rice may be substituted)
½ cup of chopped parsley
1 packet no-sodium beef bouillon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
the remaining tomato paste (see sauce ingredients above)
salt, pepper and allspice to taste
Grape leaves from a jar:
Rinse leaves, pat dry. Remove and discard thick stem ends.
Directions for folding and cooking the grape leaves:
1. Lay one grape leaf at a time on a flat work surface,
shiny side down.

2. Place enough filling at the stem-end of the leaf, and spread it about three-quarters across the width of the leaf. (The amount of filling will be determined by the size of the leaf.) Start rolling the leaf from the stem end upward (away from you), then fold each side of the leaf over the filling, and continue to roll upward. Fold firmly so the leaf won’t unravel during cooking. (NOTE: Don’t roll too tightly, however, because the bulgur or rice will expand and the leaves could burst during cooking.)

3. Place the sauce in a large pot. Place the rolled leaves right in the sauce.

4. Add enough hot water to cover the rolled leaves. Place an inverted dish on top of the grape leaves to keep them in place.

NOTE: You might want to add another weight, such as a small pot half-filled with water to place on top of the dish. This keeps the grape leaves submerged for even cooking.

5. Bring to a boil; place a lid and tilt it (it won’t fit snugly due to the small pot), then reduce heat to low. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the bulgur or rice and grape leaves are tender.

To serve: Spoon some sauce over the top of the cooked grape leaves, along with plain, thick yogurt.
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  1. Ara February 8, 2013 at 5:35 am

    One suggestion: Layer the leftover leaves at the bottom of the pan. They add flavor and prevent the stuffed grape leaves from burning. Also, you want to arrange the stuffed grape leaves so they are packed (in a wheel pattern, for example). This prevents them from moving around in the liquid and unraveling. And finally: my mom would put a whole bunch of peeled whole garlic cloves in the middle of the leaves, to give extra flavor to the dish.

  2. Unknown December 31, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Or put lamb breast on the bottom of the pot.

    1. Robyn Kalajian January 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Brilliant idea – two meals in one!


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