While the vine leaves are nice and juicy now, it’s time to harvest some and preserve for the winter to make dolmas or dolmades. I would have never thought I’d like tree leaves, but once I tried them, I fell in love! The stuffed vine leaves are the perfect finger food for home parties, they are tangy and refreshing, and for sure they are an excellent food to make on the weekend and take in your lunchbox to work during the week.
This is also a great dish for people with gluten intolerance, for vegans and for the Meatless Mondays! The richness of flavour from the different herbs is a pleasure for the mouth and it is packed with good micronutrients.
Where to get the leaves
If you can’t harvest any vine leaves yourself, because you don’t live next to a vineyard or you don’t have any in your garden, don’t despair! You can find some pickled leaves at some shops. Look for Greek or Armenian food shops, they will definitely have some.
How to prepare and preserve the leaves
If you harvest the leaves, you can blanch them in hot water just for a few seconds before using them, you can put them in a brine with water and 2% salt or you can just freeze them, which is the easiest way to preserve the leaves for later.
By the way, you can use both wine vine leaves and the fruit vine leaves, the grapes slightly differ, but the leaves are excellent either way. And remember to harvest only organically grown vine leaves, you don’t want to pick and eat leaves that have been sprayed with fungicides or pesticides.
Enjoy them with a yogurt sauce
You can serve these stuffed vine leaves with a yogurt sauce. Just add 1 grated clove of garlic, some chopped mint, 1 tsp ground cumin and a splash of lemon juice.
And why not make a whole Greek evening with these recipes and the dolmade:
Greek Dolmades stuffed with herbs and rice
- A heat proof plate
- 1 cup rice bomba, arborio, or any other risotto type rice
- 20 vine leaves
- 1 white onion
- 1 small leek
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch spring onion
- 1 bunch coriander
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch dill
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ cup water or broth
- Chop the onion, garlic, leek and spring onions. Pour a generous amount of olive oil in a deep sauce pan and sauté the ingredients on medium low heat for 10 min until completely soft. Make sure the heat is so low that the onion doesn't brown, it just hast to sauté and become transparent.1 white onion, 1 small leek, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the rice and bring up the heat. Cook it for 2 min until the rice becomes slightly transparent.
- Add the broth or water. If you use broth, you will get more depth of flavour. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 min on high heat. Then remove from heat and leave the lid on for another 5 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
- Mix in all the other chopped herbs and the lemon zest. Enjoy the amazing perfume!
- Prepare a deep pot for cooking the dolmade. Cover the bottom part with a few vine leaves, this will help the dolmade to cook without getting burnt. Put some lemon rinds for some more tang.
- Put the smooth part of the leave on the table, take one spoonful of the rice and fill the leave. You can see how to roll the dolmades in a video below. Put them in the pot tightly together, so they don't open during the boiling.
- Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil on top of the dolmade to give some more flavour.Put the heat proof plate on top of the dolmade, make sure that it covers them well and keeps them down at the bottom of the pot. Pour water over it to cover everything well and put something heavy on top of the plate. Put the pot on medium heat and cook for 45 minutes. If the water runs out, pour some more over so they don't get burnt.