Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Herbs - Dolmas
These grape leaves, stuffed with a tantalizing mixture of rice and fresh aromatic herbs is delicious. These can be served as an appetizer with greek yogurt or as a main dish with good crusty bread and a Greek salad, if desired.
- 1/2 lb. fresh grape leaves, or 16-ounce jar of leaves packed in brine
- 1/3 cup, plus 2 tbs. olive oil
- 4 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh fennel leaves
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4-5 cups water
- strained fresh juice of 2 lemons
- plain strained Greek yogurt (optional)
If using grape leaves packed in brine, rinse them very well and submerge them in scalding water for 2-3 minutes to soften.
Remove with a slotted spoon, being careful not to rip them.
Rinse several times and strain.
Fresh grape leaves, once the stem has been trimmed, can be used directly, or blanched as well, if they are not young and tender.
In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the one-third cup of olive oil and cook the onions and scallions for about 8-10 minutes, until completely soft.
Add the garlic and stir for one minute.
Add the rice, and saute, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
Add cumin, salt, pepper and two cups of water.
Cover and simmer until rice is softened but not cooked completely and water absorbed. Remove and cool. Toss in the herbs and pepper.
Separate the grape leaves that are too small or too irregular to roll.
Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom of a medium-size sauce pan and layer 4-5 of the irregular leaves over the oil.
Taking one leaf at a time, snip off any remainder of a hard stem.
Place one teaspoon of the rice mixture in center, bottom of leaf.
Fold the left and right sides over the filling and roll up, gently but tightly, from bottom to top, until a bite-sized log is formed.
Place seamside down in the pot.
Repeat with remaining stuffing and leaves.
Pour remaining olive oil, lemon juice and enough water to cover the leaves by about 1 1/2 inches into the pot.
Place a dish over the grape leaves so they don't loosen while cooking.
Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 50 minutes to about one hour, or until leaves are tender and rice is thoroughly cooked.
Serve warm or cold, with strained yogurt on the side, if desired.