Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

We really enjoy the vegetarian dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and other sundies) from Eastern Market, and so we thought we'd try and make them ourselves. We found grape leaves in brine at the supermarket and went from there. While I do enjoy cooking "projects," I have to admit that this one is pretty labor intensive. It's delicious, but undertake with caution.

I cobbled together the recipe from online sources.

Makes about 40 dolmades.

8 oz drained jar of grape leaves

1/2 cup red onion, minced

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup raisins or currants (optional)

1 cup of arborio (risotto) rice, or other short-grain rice

1/4 cup lemon juice 

3-4 cups vegetable stock or water, divided
Olive oil

Prepare filling:
- In a dry skillet, toast pine nuts until golden brown. Set aside.

- In a saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent
- Add rice and sauté for 1 minute
- Add 1 cup stock or water, turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente.

- Add diced tomatoes, reserved pine nuts, and parsley and mix well

- Take off heat and allow to cool to room temperature

Prepare grape leaves (using pickled/brined in a jar):
- Remove grape leaves from jar and rinse
- Bring big pot of water to boil

- Separate grape leaves and put into water

- Boil leaves for approximately 3 minutes, or until pliable

- Drain and run under cold water
- Separate and sort into good/bad/ugly.

Assemble and cook:

Pour a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of a wide pan. On top of oil, line bottom of pan with "ugly" grape leaves.

With leaves vein side up (shiny side down), stuff grape leaves with a heaping tablespoon of mixture (see step-by-step instructions). (Note, if your leaves still have their stems, you must remove them with a paring knife before stuffing them.) Leave a little (but not a lot) of give, because rice will expand slightly when cooked.
 Mixture should make about 40 dolmades.

Put rolled dolmades in pan, seam side down; stack if necessary.
 Pour 1 cup of broth, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup olive oil over dolmades. Cover dolmades with remainder of grape leaves.
 Bring to simmer over medium heat, then turn heat to low. Rest lightweight pot lid or heat-proof plate on dolmades (to keep from unfolding). Simmer for 30 minutes. Most of the liquid will be gone at this point. 

Allow to cool. Store in tupperware in the fridge for up to a week.

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