Grilled Goat Cheese Wrapped in Grape Leaves

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Click To Enlarge Photo: Ken Chernus

4 large fresh grape leaves, washed and dried (if large leaves are unavailable, overlap 2 small leaves)
Four 1-in.-thick rounds of goat cheese (about 6 oz.)
2 tbsp. fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems and chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
3?4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
Loaf of French bread or focaccia
Handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

4 servings as a first course or 16 hors d’oeuvre-size portions

Cut the stems off the grape leaves. Place a goat-cheese round in the center of each grape leaf, and top the rounds with the minced thyme and garlic. Drizzle each with 1 tsp. olive oil and add a healthy grind of black pepper. Wrap each grape leaf around the goat cheese so the cheese is enclosed. Turn each package over and place it on a dish. Drizzle each with another teaspoon of olive oil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let stand 10 to 15 min., then drain. Chop the tomatoes and refrigerate until serving time.

Remove the cheese packages from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling to bring to room temperature. Grill about 4 in. above hot coals for 5 to 8 min. on each side, or until cheese is warm and soft. Don’t worry if the grape leaves char on the outside. Remove to a serving platter.

Cut the French bread or focaccia into thin slices and grill them lightly.

Peel the grape leaves back to expose the goat cheese. To eat, spread warm goat cheese on slices of grilled bread. Garnish with a few pieces of sun dried tomato and fresh basil leaves.

Recipe by Debora Carl
February 1997
from issue #7

posted in: tomatoes, grapes, side dish