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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Picking Grape Leaves and Rolling Dolmas

Chef Orr picks grape leaves from a tree near his home and then transforms them into dolmas with mushroom stuffing.

Grape Leaves

The Earth Eats crew caught up with Chef Daniel Orr in Columbus, Indiana, as he was picking through his garden and foraging for food. On this episode, he picks some beautiful grape leaves from a tree by his house and then transforms them into Dolmas with a mushroom stuffing.

We’ve spoken about foraging on Earth Eats before, but let’s have a little refresher.

  • Make sure you don’t pick food near a heavily trafficked road.
  • Make sure you talk to your neighbors to get their a-ok should the goodies you desire be on their property.
  • And make sure you know how the plants have been raised. Obviously, you don’t want to pick and eat something that’s been sprayed with loads of chemicals. Basically, a good rule to live by, in general, is know where your food has come from!

Grape leaves need to be prepared a bit. You can’t eat them straight off the tree – they would be way too tough. After he cleaned the dirt off the leaves, Chef Orr cut the stems, rolled them up, and stored them in a brine. After a couple days of that, he says they’re ready to work with.

Grape leaves can serve as a fun wrapping for fish, vegetables, meat, tofu – use your imagination!

Dolmas With Oyster Mushrooms


  • 1 egg
  • cooked brown rice
  • grilled oyster mushrooms
  • garlic chives, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix stuffing with hands and stuff grape leaves with the mixture. Fold in two sides of the grape leaves and then roll them like a cigar.
  2. Place finished grape leaves in a baking dish. Drizzle with tomato juice and olive oil.
  3. Heat oven 250-300 degrees, cook 25-30 minutes (long enough to cook the eggs).

Feel free to add your favorite spices to this dish – make it your own! This is also a great way to dress up leftovers, whether it be tofu or duck. Grape leaves can be a fun addition to any meal. Enjoy the dolmas either hot or cold.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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