60 vine leaves, drained and rinsed
250g rice (1 cup)
1 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cups warm water
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsps dill, chopped
1/2 a cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
- Start by preparing the vine leaves. You can either use vine leaves sold in jars or fresh (if you are lucky enough to find them). If you use the ones in jar, rinse the vine leaves, remove the stems and leave them in a colander to drain. If using fresh vine leaves, wash them thoroughly, remove the stems and blanch them in boiling hot water. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to cool down completely.
- Prepare the filling for the stuffed vine/ grape leaves (dolmades). Place the rice in a colander and rinse with running water. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1/3 of the olive oil and the chopped onions. Sauté the onions, until translucent (but not coloured). Add the rice and sauté for 1 more minute. Pour in 2 cups of warm water and half lemon juice and simmer for about 7 minutes, until the rice absorbs all the water and is parboiled. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the herbs, remove from the stove and set aside to cool down for a while. This will be the filling for the dolmades.
- Layer the bottom of a large pot with some vine leaves (use the ones that are little bit torn) and start rolling the dolmades. (This is probably the most difficult part of the traditional dolmades recipe). Place one vine leaf (shiny side down) on a flat surface and add 1 tsp of the filling at the bottom end (stem). Be careful not to overfill the dolmades, as the rice will expand during cooking. Fold the lower section of the leaf over the filling towards the center; bring the two sides in towards the center and roll them up tightly. Place the stuffed vine leaves (fold side down) on the bottom of the pot and top in snugly layers. Be careful not to leave any gaps between the dolmades to prevent them from cracking open when cooking.
- Drizzle the stuffed vine leaves (dolmades) with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place an inverted plate on top to hold them down when cooking and pour in enough water just to cover them. Place the lid on and simmer the dolmades for about 30-40 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the dolmades remain only with the oil.
- Remove the pot from the heat, remove the lid and plate and let the dolmades cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve this delicious Greek appetizer cold or at room temperature with a squeeze of a lemon. Give this traditional dolmades recipe a try and enjoy your own fresh homemade stuffed grape leaves (dolmades)!