By VICTOR E. SASSON
I was raised in Brooklyn eating grape leaves my mother grew in our garden, and stuffed with a mixture of rice and chopped meat.
She cooked them in a covered pot in water flavored with a thick tamarind sauce.
Aleppo Restaurant in Paterson makes a tasty version of stuffed grape leaves, but the ones I've eaten in Greek restaurants have been just OK.
The other day, my wife brought home Frankly Fresh Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.
A 2-pound package was $10.59, which seems a little high to me.
The package says they are "handmade with seasoned rice, tomatoes, onions and red peppers," and "ready to eat."
On Wednesday night, I added the stuffed grape leaves to a dinner salad of greens, beans and beets, and was underwhelmed.
They were dense and a little dry, and they reminded me of the bland vegetarian falafel I once bought at Costco.
But this morning, I plated stuffed grape leaves with Korean-style stewed pollock and organic quinoa with tomatoes, and heated the food in the microwave for 2 minutes.
I drizzled extra-virgin olive oil on the quinoa and stuffed grape leaves, as well as fresh lime juice (the stuffed grape leaves package shows a half slice of lemon).
The stuffed grape leaves came alive. They were moist and delicious, and I'm glad my wife brought them home.
Chewy, whole-grain organic quinoa with tomatoes is a great side dish for a frittata.
Stewed, wild-caught pollock from H Mart in Englewood with collaloo, center; and ackee and salt fish.