One of my favorite Greek dishes is Dolmades – lemon rice with dill stuffed into grape leaves. They are the perfect taste combo of sour, salty and fatty with that all important starch component. I have bought many containers from our local Planet Organic Market at a pretty price. Due to their high market value I set out to recreate their version at home at a fraction of the price. Well both my daughter and I agree that I definitely hit the mark with these. The batch lasted all of 24 hours so next time I’ll make it a double.
This recipe requires you to search out jarred grape leaves. I find mine at Superstore here in Edmonton. They carry many ethnic foods but they can also be found at Mediterranean and Italian Markets…and everything can be bought online these days so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are on Amazon or Ebay. 1 large jar makes 2 batches so feel free to double up the recipe. Dolmades store very well in the refrigerator so no need to worry about having to gobble them up after a few days. As with any recipe the fresher your ingredients the better the result. Definitely use fresh lemon juice as the bottled variety will give a lesser result…but it will do in a pinch. Fresh dill also makes a huge difference, but this is one I don’t always have on hand and have used dried…just not as intense of a dill flavor coming through. I use a small roasting pan but any type of casserole or oven proof dish will do. So let’s get started!
DOLMADES – makes around 40 rolls
2 cups short grain Brown Rice (or any type of brown rice you have on hand) rinsed well and drained
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup fresh Lemon juice
2 Tbsp. dried Dill or 1/2 cup fresh Dill chopped
1 1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
3 cloves fresh Garlic
1 medium Onion chopped finely
2 large stalks Celery chopped finely
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 jar Grape Leaves
I used a rice cooker to cook the rice but if you don’t have one you can use a pot on the stove no problem. A rice cooker is a fantastic appliance to have in the kitchen as it cooks up any type of grain without having to watch the stove and it always gives a perfect result.
Place the rice, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, dill and water in to the rice cooker and press start. If you are using a pot, bring the water to boil then place all of these ingredients in, turn the heat down to minimum, cover with a lid and cook until the rice is tender and all of the water is absorbed (around 45 minutes). Once the rice is cooked remove it from the rice cooker or pot into a large bowl to allow it to cool enough so it can be handled with your hands.
In the meantime you can gently rinse half the jar of grape leaves and allow them to drain in a colander. They don’t need to be completely dry just not dripping wet. Using the smaller leaves, line your baking dish with the leaves along the sides and bottom. You are now ready to roll.
Place a large leaf with the vein side down. For very large leaves use 1 Tbsp. or the rice mixture, smaller leaves around 1 Tsp. You really can use as little or as much as you like as long as you can still roll the leaves up without breaking them. With the filling in the middle of the leaf, fold in the sides then fold from the back of the leaf rolling away from you keeping the rice filling snug inside the leaf. Place seam side down in the leaf lined baking dish. Roll until all of the rice filling is gone.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice and 1/2 cup of olive oil over the rolls. I will also add around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to make sure the rolls are covered completely with fluid, but not floating! Cover the rolls completely with more grape leaves to keep all the moisture in. Cover with the lid or with Aluminium Foil.
Bake at 350 Degrees F for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. We like them at room temperature or chilled but they can be eaten warm also. They are delicious served with Tzatziki which can be made with any type of plain yogurt (even dairy free coconut or soy yogurt), a bit of fresh lemon juice, chopped cucumber, a dash of dill, salt and pepper and some fresh chopped garlic if you’re into that.
These will keep for over a week refrigerated in a sealed container.
Love Jennifer xoxo