Greek Dolmades – Stuffed Vine Leaves

Ingredients

    • 60-70 tender vine leaves (about 250 g)

    • 2 bunches spring onions, sliced in to very thin rounds

    • 1 large onion or 2 smaller ones, diced

    • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

    Serve with

    • 500 g Greek strained yogurt

    • lemon wedges

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil

    • ¼ bunch dill, finely chopped

    • 5-6 mint leaves, finely chopped

    • olive oil

    • freshly ground pepper

    • 250 ml olive oil

    • 400 g rice

    • 400 g water

    • ½ bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped

    • ½ bunch dill, finely chopped

    • 1 bunch mint, finely chopped

    • grated zest of 2 limes

    • salt

    • freshly ground pepper

    • juice from 1 1/2 – 2 lemons

    • 4-5 lemon wedges

Method

  • Stuffed grape vine leaves are known as “Dolmades” and can be served as an appetizer or a main course.

    If you have fresh vine leaves, blanch them for 2-3 seconds in boiling, salted water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl full of very cold water. When they are all ready, let them drain in a strainer. Use a small sharp knife to remove any stems or tough veins they may have.

    If you happen to have your own vine leaves in brine, frozen or canned… remove them from the jar or bag, transfer to a strainer and wash with plenty of cold water and allow them to drain before using.

    For the filling

    • Place a pot over medium to high heat.

    • Add the spring onion, onion and garlic along with ½ the olive oil (125 ml).

    • Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until they soften and caramelize nicely and shrink in volume.

    • Add the rice and sauté for 2 minutes.

    • Add the water and stir. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the rice soaks up the water.

    • When ready, remove from heat and set it aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

    • Add the coriander, dill, mint, lime zest, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

    To assemble

    • Spread 4-5 vine leaves, lemon wedges and lemon juice on the bottom of a 22 cm pot. Use any ripped or broken vine leaves.

    • Place a vine leaf in the palm of your hand or on a cutting board (veins facing up and shiny side down).

    • Add 1 tablespoon of filling in the center, fold the sides of the vine leaf inward and roll to complete.

    • Transfer to the pot, placing the stuffed vine leaves in a row, one next to the other.

    • Repeat the same process for all the vine leaves.

    • When the first layer has been added, continue with a second and third, if needed until they are all done.

    • Add the remaining olive oil and cover the stuffed vine leaves with a plate. This is done so that they don’t fall apart while cooking.

    • Add the warm or hot water, until they are completely covered.

    • Simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the rice is done and the vine leaves are tender.

    • When ready, remove from heat and set them aside to cool in the pot.

    • Serve the stuffed vine leaves with yogurt, dill, mint, olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

    • If you have fresh grape vine leaves, blanch them for 2-3 minutes in salted boiling water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl with cold water.

    • When all of the vine leaves are blanched, let them drain in a strainer. Use a sharp knife to remove the stems and any thick veins that may be on the leaves.

    • If you have your own or if you are going to use store bought vine leaves preserved in brine, frozen or from a can, remove them from the container and place in a strainer. Rinse under cold water and let them drain.

    • Heat ½ cup of olive oil and sauté the onions in a pot over medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until translucent.

    • Rinse the rice very well and drain well. Add it to the onions and stir for 1-2 minutes to coat them in the oil. Add 2 cups of water and stir.

    • Simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with a clean cotton towel. Place lid over towel and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

    • Put the herbs in a bowl. Add the rice mixture. Season with salt and pepper and mix.

    • Take 1 vine leaf at a time. Place it on your palm or on a cutting board (veins facing upward and the shiny side facing down). Add a spoonful of filling in the center. Fold the edges inward and roll to close.

    • Spread a layer of leaves on the bottom of the pot (use any torn or cut leaves first). Add the dolmades, placing them one next to the other.

    • When the first layer is complete continue with a second and third, if necessary, until they are all done.

    • Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and enough warm water to cover them completely. Place a plate over the rolls (this is done to keep the dolmades in place and they don’t fall apart while cooking). Simmer over medium heat for about 45-60 minutes.

    • Try one to make sure the rice has cooked properly and if the leaves are soft. When ready, remove from heat.

    • Let them cool for a bit, in the pot. They can be served warm or cold and should be enjoyed all on their own!

     

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