Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dolmades: stuffed vine leaves

A savoury appetizer ...

It only took one long conversation with my girlfriend, originally from the Greek Islands, to be inspired to make some dolmades will fresh vine leaves ;)

It turns out the process is very simple but it takes a while to roll each leaf. Also, you can use pickled grape vine leaves if fresh is not an option. As with many cultural dishes there are many variations, I've put my veggie inspired take on them. 

When using fresh vine leaves only use the young tender leaves at the tips of the branches. The older and larger ones are too fibrous and chewy.

To prepare/ blanch the leaves... 

First, rinse the leaves well in water and arrange grape leaves flat in a dish. Cover with boiling water that has 1/4 cup salt added to it, and let sit for 2 minutes. The colour should change to a brighter green. Drain then cover with cold water, let sit for 5 minutes, drain again. Dress with lemon juice and they are ready to use...

*The salt draws out any bitterness*

Filling 1: Herbs and lemon

1/2 cup white or brown rice (brown requires more boiling)
1/2 onion finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins
3 tbs chopped parsley
3 tbs chopped mint
1 tsp chopped rosemary
lemon juice, salt, pepper

Filling 2: Sun dried tomato and artichoke

1/2 cup white or brown rice
1/2 cup marinated artichoke, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sun dried tomato
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 onion finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
Salt, pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste

Vegetable stock...
2 vegetable stock cubes 
4 bay leaves,
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 tsp mustard seed,
1 tbs olive oil 

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil,
2 tbs fresh dill
salt, pepper

1. Boil the rice and sauté onion and garlic in olive or coconut oil. (Coconut oil has a more buttery consistency), half the mixture for both fillings.

2. Add the rice and rest of filling 1 and 2 separately, set aside.

3. Using 1 or 2 vine leaves, use 2 heaped teaspoons of mixture per dolmade, roll them neatly and place in a large saucepan that has been lined with vine leaves or cabbage on the bottom (to prevent burning). This is where I put the vegetable stock, bay leaves, pepper, mustard seed, olive oil and salt.

4. Use a plate to keep the dolmades under the water level and set on low heat to cook slowly for around 45- 50 minutes. Once cooked drain, set aside to cool, refrigerate then dress with the lemon juice dressing.


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