Taking advantage of springtime leaves with Kim’s dolmades recipe…
This season we’re eating our vineyard, literally! With the vines slowly beginning to take form, Kim has been eyeing off the early leaves in the vineyard for an old favourite – dolmades. She always heads straight for the Muscat vines as these are larger at this time of year, while still having a youthful tenderness that’s perfect for this dish.
Dolmades, native to Greece, are traditionally made using the fresh leaves of the grape vines and filled with a delicious herbed rice mixture. If you’re beginning to scratch your head wondering where you’ll ever find fresh vine leaves, don’t worry! This dish can also be made using cabbage leaves too.
Kim’s dolmades can be made vegetarian or with classic lamb mince, and are delicious served alongside hummus or minted yoghurt. The following recipe makes approximately 30 dolmades – which can be eaten on the day or stored in the fridge for up to a week.
- Around 60 fresh, tender, unsprayed vine leaves (or cabbage leaves) – 2 small leaves per dolmade, plus a few extra for lining the pot and any breakages.
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup of medium or short-grain rice, rinsed and drained
- Zest & juice of two lemons, and one half lemon for slicing
- 2 cups vegetable stock (can substitute 1 cup for white wine)
- 1 tablespoon currants
- Fresh chilli, finely chopped, to taste
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 cup of mixed fresh herbs (mint, parsley, fennel, etc.)
- Another cup of vegetable stock for cooking
The rolling of the dolmades seems fiddly initially, but once you’ve done it the first time it will be a breeze. You can spice up the recipe by adding mince or spinach to the rice mixture, or any other additions you fancy. Once finished, they’re delicious served with a minted yoghurt or hummus.
- Wash the vine leaves and snip off the stems at the base of the leaf.
- Blanch leaves by placing briefly into boiling water, then drain on a paper towel and set aside.
- Saute the onion, garlic and pine nuts in a pan with half the olive oil until the onions are transparent.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
- Add half the lemon juice, and the rest of the ingredients and continue stirring for 6-7 minutes over low heat then set aside.
Rolling the dolmades:
- Overlap 2 vine leaves on your bench, shiny side down (we use two as our leaves are young and tender. If you have larger leaves, you can choose to only use one – which will likely be the case if you’re using cabbage leaves).
- Place 2 teaspoons of rice filling in the centre of the leaves, then fold each side into the centre and roll tightly and neatly to close.
- Repeat until all domades have been rolled.
Cooking the dolmades:
- Line a heavy-bottomed pan (a Le Creuset or Staub would be perfect for this) with several vine leaves, a layer 2-3 thick.
- Place dolmades with the fold downward and layer the dolmades tightly and neatly into the pan.
- Cut half of a lemon into half-moon slices and layer on top of dolmades.
- Drizzle with the other half of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a further cup of vegetable stock.
- Cover the top of the dolmades with another 2-3 thick layer of leaves, then weigh down gently with an inverted plate that fits neatly inside the pot.
- Cover with the pot lid. Simmer very gently for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.