No Greek meze table is complete without dolmades, the family of stuffed vine or cabbage leaves and vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini. These popular rice-filled grape leaves, known as dolmades, are usually served at room temperature with lemon wedges or yogurt. One 8-ounce jar of grape leaves should provide enough for filling and lining the pan.
- 1 cup long-grain white rice, preferably basmati rice
- 1/4 cup currants
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, optional
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus salt to taste
- 1 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, chopped and drained tomatoes (fresh or canned), optional
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or dill
- 3/4 cup hot water
- Freshly ground pepper
- 36 grape leaves preserved in brine, plus grape leaves for lining pan, optional
- 2 cups boiling water
- Fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
Place the rice in a bowl, add cold water to cover and let stand for 30 minutes. At the same time, place the currants in a small bowl, add hot water to cover and let stand for 30 minutes until plumped. Drain the rice and currants and set aside.
Meanwhile, if using the pine nuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a small pan and place in the oven until toasted and fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add the yellow onion and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes longer. Add the allspice, cinnamon and drained rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is opaque, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes (if using), parsley, mint or dill, currants and hot water.
Cook, uncovered, until the water is absorbed and the rice is about half-cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Rinse the grape leaves in cool water and cut off the stems. Working in batches, lay them out on a table, shiny-side down. Place a tablespoonful of the rice filling near the stem-end of each leaf, fold the bottom-end over the filling, then fold in the sides and roll up. Do not roll too tightly, as the rice will expand during cooking. Set aside, seam-side down.
When all of the filling has been used, select a baking pan or large, deep frying pan that will hold the stuffed grape leaves in a single layer. Line with more grape leaves, if using. Arrange the stuffed grape leaves in the pan, seam-sides down. Place a heavy plate on top to keep the leaves from unrolling while cooking, then pour the boiling water and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil around the leaves.
Cover and simmer gently over very low heat until the rice and leaves are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the plate. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice, let cool, then serve with lemon wedges. Alternately, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
69 calories; 5g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 180mg sodium; 6g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 1g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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