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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegetarian Dolmades (Greek Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions)

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 1

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
You'll need:
1 egg
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.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 2

Place about a tablespoon of filling in the center of a grape leaf.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 3

Fold up the bottom of the leaf.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 4

Then fold in the sides.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 5

Keep rolling until you have a tight roll.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 6

When you've rolled up all the grape leaves, layer them and steam for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 7

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.

Dolmades with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions 1


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.


  1. these look really nice~ you have inspired me sister!

  2. First off, you banged out the Avgolemeno perfectly (for some reason others F-ot up).

    Secondly, I love the jasmine rice use here, I'll try that sometime.

    Thirdly, thanks for the email and referencing me...you're a noted blogger for a reason.

  3. Ooh, these look absolutely spectacular! Now, I'm craving these but I would have to run about town to find grape leaves.

  4. Anh,

    Just making sure to double-check my facts so I don't goof up. :) Thanks for getting back to me. I know you were busy with your Greek Thanksgiving fest!

    I take it they're not as readily available in Canada? :(

  5. Ha ha :D Maybe I should finally retire, you are definitely the better Asian AND Greek cook :D

    I think in future when I want to write about a good Greek recipe I will just redirect all visitors to your page, this will save a lot of time and effort... But I am trying hard to learn a bit too, I came back from grocery shopping with real Vietnamese rice paper and flat rice noodles. This is not much, but I tried some rice paper spring rolls with chopped veggies, very easy and delicious. Rice paper is really a genius invention :D

  6. Litsa,
    Oh no, my Greek repertoire is pretty limited.

    Wow, I'm amazed you can find Vietnamese rice paper and rice noodles in Greece! You should break them in by trying one of my recipes then. ;)

  7. Not in entire Greece, but Athens is a big city, there are quite a few Asian shops with owners from different countries. I have only the link to the biggest Japanese store in Athens: http://www.soya-japan.gr ...

    But there are also other shops, sometimes there are also Asian items in supermarkets and health food stores, but those are usually overpriced, so I prefer to buy at the source :) Usually I get only my standard quick cooking noodles, green tea, green-brown rice tea, soy sauce... But now I am looking more for the Vietnamese goodies I have seen on your page, maybe I can finally get as much as necessary to recreate one of those good looking recipes.

    Right now I am just incorporating the Asian items in my daily cooking (I made those rice paper rolls just for me as a snack without any instructions, I was not sure how this will turn out, but so far it was good... nevertheless, if cooking for others I prefer to follow a more professional recipe)

  8. Litsa,
    Which recipes have you been eyeing? What ingredients are you missing? If it's something that's light or not very expensive, I can send it to you. Noodles and rice paper are unfortunately too heavy to send overseas. Last time I did that, it cost $12 to send a $1 packet to the UK. Luckily you found some!


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