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Zaatar Apple and Beef Stuffed Grape Leaves

Apples add a twist to traditional dolmades.

Photo of Zaatar Apple and Beef Stuffed Grape Leaves


1 cup short grain rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup yellow onion, peeled, finely diced
2 cups DOLE® Chef-Ready Cuts Diced Apples, thawed
1 lb. lean ground beef, 90/10 blend
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons za'atar
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 jar (16 oz.) grape leaves, in-brine
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt


  1. Combine short-grain rice and water in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 25 minutes until rice has absorbed the water. Transfer cooked rice to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add vegetable oil and roll pan to evenly coat surface. Add diced onion and sweat for 5 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add apples and cook until soft (approximately 5 minutes). Transfer onions and apples to large mixing bowl of rice.
  3. Return sauté pan to the stovetop and add lean ground beef. Cook ground beef over medium heat for 10 minutes or until it has reached a temperature of 165°F. Transfer cooked beef to large bowl of previously cooked ingredients. 
  4. Add fresh lemon juice, Za'atar spice, mint, 3 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and ground black pepper to the large mixing bowl and stir gently with a rubber spatula until fully-incorporated. Place bowl in refrigerator for 2 hours to cool. 
  5. Drain brine from jar of grape leaves and stack leaves on a plate. Cover with a wet paper towel while stuffing and rolling to prevent from drying. 
  6. Place individual grape leaves on a clean work surface with the stem end facing towards you. Using a spoon, place 2 oz. of chilled stuffing in the middle of arranged grape leaf. Fold the stem side up and over the filling and gently press down. Carefully fold both sides of the grape leaf inwards towards the first fold. Gently press and roll forward until a tight roll is formed. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until no filling remains. 
  7. Place stuffed grape leaves on a plate or desired serving platter and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with Greek yogurt for dipping. 
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