Earlier this year when my youngest uncle's grape vine was filled with leaves, I wanted to revisit a recipe for Bo Nuong La Nho (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Grape Leaves). When most people think of grape leaves, they think of the Greek appetizer dolmades. Dolma comes from the Turkish word for stuffed. I could have done the beef and rice version, but since I had already earmarked the ground beef for the Vietnamese recipe, plus a Korean fusion variation, I decided to do a vegetarian Greek version instead.
I checked the blog of my trusty Greek food guru Peter of Kalofagas to see if his version had something I hadn't tried before. He made the traditional beef and rice dolmades, but added dill and mint. Oooh, I love dill, and if I had any on hand, I surely would have added that to mine. I had plenty of mint in the garden though, and it added a nice zing. I normally like to eat these with tzatziki (Greek cucumber yogurt sauce), but decided to follow Peter's suggestion of serving them with avgolemeno (Greek egg and lemon) sauce. Mmm. Just typing that makes me want to make a pot of chicken and rice avgolemeno soup, but that'll have to wait for another day.
I made a bunch. After all, I had a whole grape vine to plunder. I froze half the batch for winter when I have a craving but won't have any fresh grape leaves available. I suggest you do the same, or well, I guess you could just buy brined grape leaves at the store. I rolled half of the dolmades with fresh grape leaves. The other half of the leaves, I followed Peter's suggestion of blanching them in salted water. The blanched leaves were slightly easier to work with, but I steamed the rolls anyway, so you can skip this step if you wish.
Vegetarian Dolmades (Greek Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions)
For 40 dolmades, you'll need:
40 grape leaves
1 cup cooked rice
1 tomato, diced
About 1 or 2 tblsp mint leaves, finely minced
1 small onion, diced and sauteed until softened
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Avogolemeno (Greek Egg and Lemon) Sauce
1 tblsp flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 to 1 cup water
Cook 1 cup rice, that's the equivalent of 3/4 measuring cup if you remembered from my directions for how to cook jasmine rice.
While the rice is cooking, quickly blanch the grape leaves if you need to, or just leave them fresh. Remove any stem.
Add 1 diced tomato, about 1 or 2 tblsp finely minced mint leaves, 1 small diced and sauteed onion, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Place about a tablespoon of filling in the center of a grape leaf.
Fold up the bottom of the leaf.
Then fold in the sides.
Keep rolling until you have a tight roll.
When you've rolled up all the grape leaves, layer them and steam for about 10 to 15 minutes.
While you're waiting for the dolmades to steam, you can prepare the avgolemeno sauce. In a pan on medium-low heat, warm up 1/2 cup water. Beat 1 egg, 1 tblsp flour, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Add the mixture to the warm water and stir. Taste and add more water if the mixture is too tart. The sauce should thicken in about 5 minutes or so, stir every once in a while to make sure it doesn't clump.
Serve the dolmades with avgolemeno sauce drizzled on top.
My other leaf-wrapped recipes:
Bo Nuong La Lot (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Wild Betel Leaves)
Bo Nuong La Nho (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Grape Leaves)
Bo Nuong La Tia To Dai Han (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Korean Perilla Leaves)
Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup)
Mieng Kham (Thai Leaf-Wrapped Snack)
1 year ago today, the soft velvety petals of a rose, artfully arranged and lightly dusted with sugar, atop a triple layer devil's food cake filled with fresh raspberries and ganache, and decorated with fresh raspberries from Perfectly Sweet - Alhambra.