Saturday, December 18, 2004

Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves, no meat)

stuffed grape leaves
There are so many ways to make this tasty dish. This is the basic recipe we (our family) use for the no-meat version. The ingredients are non-specific because that's how I learned from my grandmother. You can buy grape leave at grocery stores and international markets. We use both fresh and the jar variety. If you use the jar type, wait until you're done before emptying out the brine (and cleaning the jar for recycling); you can store any remaining leaves for a couple of days in the refrigerator either back in the brine or in a zip bag.


grape leaves, rinsed, drained, with the stems trimmed
1 onion, finely chopped
small bunch of scallions, rinsed and finely chopped
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, shredded
dill (fresh is best but dried works well too, use a little more)
white rice (not instant!) 2-4 handfuls, more if needed to fill all leaves
dash pepper
dash of salt
lemon juice
olive oil

Add the chopped onion, chopped scallions, shredded zucchini, dill, rice, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Add a drizzle of oil and a little lemon juice and mix well. This mixture will be used to fill the grape leaves.

Line a medium pot with a single layer of any torn grape leaves. If there are no torn leaves, use few small ones or one or two bigger ones. This protects the bottom layer of rolled leaves from burning (but it still can, have to check it while it's cooking to make sure there is liquid).

I had hoped to snap some pictures of how to roll the last time my mother made these, but she made them while I was at work. So for now, I tried to find some how-to-roll instructions elsewhere.

How to roll:

Hold the leaf on your palm, vein side up. Place a teaspoonfull of the filling mixture near the base of the leaf at the stem end. Press the filling into a small sausage-like shape and fold the stem end over it, then both edges towards the middle, inwards. Then roll the stuffed leaf over to make a tight small bundle. Basically you're making an "envelope" with the leaf.

It's better to slightly under stuff your leaves than over stuff them. If they're too full they may break open while cooking (I expect a few to break open anyway; it just happens).

Do this with each leaf, lining your pot in a snug spiral pattern. You can layer these, but leave at least 2-3 inches clearance from top (of your pot) so the water has some room to boil.

If you have any leaves left, add a little more rice (and dill, and onion if you want to chop more) to your mixture and fill the remaining leaves. Or, you can save them for another use (within 2 days or so).

As for any remaining mixture.... we sometimes cook it separately, or just add it on top (easier to test done-ness if there's loose rice).

Place a small dish on top of the leaves. This weighs them down and helps to prevent them from unravelling while cooking. Add enough cold water to the pot to just cover the rolled leaves. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a little olive oil. Cook on low to medium heat partially covered (on, but not tightly sealed) until the rice is cooked. (20-30 minutes or so)

Check this occasionally while cooking to make sure there is still some liquid in the pot. This helps prevent burning. Towards the end it's alright for the liquid to get very low. This shouldn't be soupy either, but it's alright if there is liquid remaining. It can be drained.

Once the rice is cooked, carefully remove the plate with tongs or a potholder. When the dolmathes is cool enough taste, try one and add lemon juice to your liking.

These are probably best as a side dish but for us, a bowl of them is dinner.

You can see another picture here.


Blogger Mary in the Midwest said...

Thanks for the recipe! One of my favorite things, and a friend has a grape arbor, so I'm sure he can spare a few leaves for me!

7:09 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

When I see your site I check it out and see what you've got. I am no chef. But, every once in a while I get crazy and try something. I might try this. Although, it looks kind of like a pain. When I was a kid, some persians Jews I know made this stuff all of the time. It's pretty good. Interesting site.

5:14 PM  
Blogger jeena said...

Mmmm your recipes look delicous!
you have Great blog from Jeena :)

visit jeena's kitchen healthy recipe blog

8:32 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

I'm cooking them up right now!

8:39 PM  

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