Classic Dolmades: A Taste Of The Mediterranean

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Dolmades, also known as stuffed grape leaves, are a delightful appetizer or light meal originating from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. These bite-sized parcels explode with flavor, thanks to a savory filling traditionally made with rice, ground meat, and fragrant herbs.

This recipe offers a straightforward approach to creating this culinary masterpiece, perfect for both seasoned cooks and curious beginners. So, gather your ingredients, and embark on a delicious journey wrapped in a grape leaf!

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)

Ingredients:

1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed

  • ½ pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) grape leaves, brined
  • ½ cup chicken broth

  • Instructions:

    1. Prepare the Filling: In a large bowl, combine the rinsed rice, ground meat, chopped onion, parsley, mint, olive oil, oregano, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Mix well to ensure even distribution of flavors.

    2. Assemble the Dolmades: Drain the grape leaves from the jar, rinsing them gently under cold water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

    3. Folding Technique: Spread a single grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side down. Place a small amount of filling (about 1 teaspoon) near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf inwards to enclose the filling. Then, roll the leaf tightly from the stem end towards the tip, creating a neat little package. Repeat this process with remaining leaves and filling.

    4. Cooking the Dolmades: In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, arrange the dolmades in a single layer, seam side down. Carefully pour the chicken broth over the dolmades, ensuring they are mostly submerged (you might need to add a little extra broth). Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the grape leaves are tender.

    5. Serving: Once cooked, remove the pot from heat and let the dolmades rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld further. Traditionally, dolmades are served at room temperature drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving, approximately):

    Calories: 150

  • Fat: 8g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 40mg
  • Sodium: 250mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 8g

  • Conclusion:

    Dolmades are a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a light lunch, or even a part of a larger mezze platter. With their unique flavor profile and delightful presentation, they’re sure to impress your guests. So, the next time you crave a taste of the Mediterranean, try your hand at this delightful recipe and experience the magic of dolmades!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    1. Can I use a different type of meat in the filling?

    Absolutely! While lamb and beef are traditional choices, you can experiment with ground chicken, turkey, or even a vegetarian option using lentils or crumbled tofu.

    2. What if I can’t find fresh grape leaves?

    Jarred brined grape leaves are readily available in most grocery stores. However, if you prefer fresh leaves, look for them at specialty stores or farmers’ markets during the grape harvest season (typically late summer/early fall).

    3. How can I store leftover dolmades?

    Leftover dolmades can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat them gently on the stovetop with a little additional broth to prevent drying out.

    4. Can dolmades be frozen?

    Yes, dolmades freeze well! Allow them to cool completely after cooking, then arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes. Once frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen dolmades will keep for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

    5. What other herbs can I use in the filling?