Why You Should Keep Stuffed Grape Leaves In Your Pantry

Several different cultures include stuffed grape leaves in their cuisine. Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern countries have developed their own variations of this tasty dish, whose origins are believed to date back to ancient times. Most share a simple list of ingredients: grape leaves, rice, herbs, spices, and sometimes ground meat. And while it can be a labor-intensive project to make stuffed grape leaves, they are also available pre-made.

Certain foods may lose some of their taste when canned, but not stuffed grape leaves. They remain remarkably robust fresh out of the container. This, along with their long shelf life, makes them the ideal item for any pantry. Check out the shelves of your local supermarket or specialty food store, and you're likely to find Greek and Turkish stuffed grape leaves, which are also known as dolmas. 

Once you have a can of these tangy little bites, you have both a potential snack and part of a meal ready and waiting.

Stuffed grape leaves make great snack and quick meal

As a snack, stuffed grape leaves make a great nibble and they're relatively low in calories (Trader Joe's vegan dolmas are only 120 calories for a three-piece serving and Divina sells a vegan version with only 80 calories for a two-piece serving). And by the very nature of their ingredients, these stuffed grape leaves are gluten-free. In addition, the grape leaves themselves are nutritious as they contain calcium, iron, and fiber.

Stuffed grape leaves can also be a star attraction in a meal. As executive chef Robin Hollis explained to Food & Wine magazine, "I like to have them on a platter with some hummus, crackers, olives, fresh veggies, and big chunks of feta — instant dinner that requires no cooking." 

Stuffed grape leaves even go great with tomato sauce. Simply heat the dolmas in your favorite jarred sauce until heated through and enjoy.