16 July 2017

More dolmas

I realized a few days ago that the leaves on the half-dozen grape vines that grow in our yard (they're table grapes) were still bright green and perfect-looking. On Friday I went out and cut four dozen of the best ones and blanched them in a steamer pot.

Then I made a rice filling for them to make grape-leaf dolmasfeuilles de vigne farcies in French. The filling is based on this recipe, but I adapted it by using crushed pistachios instead of pine nuts, chopped raisins rather than currants, and dill instead of mint. I put in less cinnamon than called for, and I added some spices including ground fennel seed and cayenne pepper. I also added two beaten eggs to the stuffing to make it "stickier" and easier to work with.

Rice stuffing for Dolmas

1¼ cups (150 g) raw rice
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
½ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup dried currants (tiny raisins)
¼ cup (or more) chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup (or more) chopped fresh mint
1½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
3 Tbsp. white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon (for the juice and the rind)

Cook the onion in olive oil until it softens. Add the rice and cook it in the olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add the broth and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. The rice doesn't need to be completely cooked at this point, because it will cook later for quite a while inside the grape leaves.

Toast the pine nuts and add them to the warm rice along with with the currants (raisins), herbs, and spices. Mix well and and add the juice of a lemon and a little white wine — save the lemon rind to cook with the stuffed leaves. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper, stir well, and let cool before filling and folding the grape leaves.

The stuffed leaves cooked for about an hour in a 160ºC / 320ºF oven, covered with some olive oil, chicken broth, and lemon juice. Vegetable broth or just water would be a good cooking liquid too, but don't leave out the olive oil and lemon juice. And don't let them boil too hard. We ate the dolmas warm but not hot, after they came out of the oven and cooled down. They're good with a yogurt-cucumber sauce like Greek tzatziki. See this post from 2010.


  1. They look wonderful and tzatziki is great too, the latter a summer favorite of mine.

    I am always amazed by anyone who can make clever substitutions and changes to a recipe as you have above. Seems like you were trying to make the filling recipe more savory?

    1. The rice filling recipe seems to be American. Don't know where I got it. I always reduce the amount of cinnamon in American recipes. It's almost always too much. I used dill because I think it goes well with lemon zest and juice, and I also put lemon zest in with the rice. Finally, I thought fennel would be a good flavor, and we like our food spicy, so in went the cayenne powder.

  2. Sounds like a perfect summer meal. Kali orexi

  3. Thank you, Local Alien, for the bon appétit in Greek. I knew that kalos meant beautiful, as in Vénus callipyge :—), or good, but I didn’t have the slightest idea what orexi meant. Now, I know!

    1. What’s wrong with Google and Blogger? Yesterday or the day before, one of my comments was sent ad patres. Now, the Reply button refuses to work, either on my computer or my tablet. Every so often, I have to give my name and password, again and again, to be able to continue on Blogger! It’s a pain…

      Now, the Reply button works if I reply to myself! What’s going on?

    2. Your guess is as good as mine!

    3. I have only been able to post comments using Safari but for some reason, today I can just comment as normal using chrome ... the gremlins in the internet :)

  4. My husband owned a business next to a Greek deli, a long time ago.
    My children and I loved it when he brought home goodies ... dolmas are still a big favorite and I don't know if anyone even knows what they are here in Jax ... lol

  5. Oh yum! We are in Belgium now. On our way!

    1. Any chance of having a drink/lunch next week in Brussels as I suggested before?

  6. I have to be brief because my responses disappear. I like your substitutions and agree with your using less cinnamon.

    1. I didn't realize all the trouble you and others were having with comments. I wish I could do something about it but I can't. I'm a victim of the software like you all are.


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