A slight twist on traditional stuffed grape leaves, using quinoa/quinoa blend instead of white rice. Making these is a bit labor intensive, but final result is really worth it. These are full of flavor, unlike bland ones more often found in markets. Try it and enjoy!
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Turn off heat. Put in grape leaves and let blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and dry leaves on paper towels.
In a large saute pan, heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil on medium heat and add anchovies. Break up with spoon and saute until anchovies are dissolved in the oil. Add red pepper flakes then onion and garlic. Saute until onions are soft and translucent, approx. 5-10 minutes. Stir in capers and lemon zest. Add quinoa and saute 2 minutes until coated with oil. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until water is absorbed.(quinoa will be parboiled, not fully cooked). Remove from heat, put in bowl and mix in pine nuts and fresh dill. Taste for salt at this point. Between the anchovies and capers, salt shouldn't be needed, but add salt to your tastes. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Take grape leaf, lay shiny side down(back of leaf up), cut off stem. Place 1/2- 1 tbsp of filling(depending on size of leaf)on bottom of leaf. Roll bottom of leaf over filling once, then fold in both sides, then continue to roll(like rolling a burrito). Make sure not to roll too tightly, to give quinoa/rice room to expand. Should yield between 30-35.
Line bottom of a 9x9 baking dish with layer of flat grapes leaves. Put stuffed grape leaves in single layer, seam side down. Pack them very tightly.(It will seem they all won't fit, but pack them well).
Mix together 1 cup water, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, pinch of salt. Pour mixture over the stuffed leaves. Cover top with one layer of flat grape leaves. Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven, let cool and refrigerate.
*Obviously if you are vegetarian, leave out the anchovies. However, if you are not vegetarian, do NOT skip this step, even if you do not(or think you do not) like anchovies. This adds an amazing depth of flavor that really makes these stand out. It is NOT a fishy flavor at all, more of a nutty saltiness, promise!
Note: I used Nature's Earthly Choice Heritage Grain Blend. It's a blend of gold & red quinoa, amaranth, brown and wild rice. If you can not find it in your stores, use regular white/gold quinoa, or brown rice or traditional white rice. IMO, quinoa/quinoa blend really adds more flavor and is a nice change from plain rice.