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May 06 2010

Dolmades – Stuffed Grape Leaves with Pork and Couscous

This is something you don’t eat everyday – grape leaves! Okay, some of you probably have never eaten grape leaves in your entire life! So that’s why we wanted to share a classic Greek recipe called Dolmades. The word “dolma” is Turkish which means ‘to be stuffed.’ The grape leaves are typically stuffed with rice, herbs, seasonings, and meat, and cooked in a large pan with some lemon juice, stock or water, and oil. We’ve been meaning to make Dolmades for awhile now, only because we have a lovely haven of grape leaves in our garden. Late spring to early summer is the best time to use the grape leaves because they are fresh, young and tender. This was a fun dish to make because it was different and the best part was – we had homegrown grape leaves!

Our grapevine is growing across one side of our brick wall along a trellis. Let's just say we are going to get more grapes than we know what to do with! Perhaps it's time to take a stab at making wine? Hmm...

Our grapevine is growing across one side of our brick wall along a trellis. Let's just say we are going to get more grapes than we know what to do with! Perhaps it's time to take a stab at making wine? Hmm...

The grape leaves are so nice and delicate! We clipped about 20 grape leaves for this recipe.

The grape leaves are so nice and delicate! We clipped about 20 grape leaves for this recipe.

We blanched the grape leaves for about 30 seconds to a minute, until it turns into a dark dull-green color.

We blanched the grape leaves for about 30 seconds to a minute, until it turns into a dark dull-green color.

We removed the blanched grape leaves and placed it in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. 

We removed the blanched grape leaves and placed it in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Instead of the usual white rice, we thought it would be more Mediterranean to use couscous to stuff the grape leaves. Couscous is the easiest thing to prepare! It's just 1 cup couscous, 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp butter (optional). Bring the water, salt and butter to a boil and add couscous. Stir quickly, remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 4-5 minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.

Instead of the usual white rice, we thought it would be more Mediterranean to use couscous to stuff the grape leaves. Couscous is the easiest thing to prepare! It's just 1 cup couscous, 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp butter (optional). Bring the water, salt and butter to a boil and add couscous. Stir quickly, remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 4-5 minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.

Sorry for the crappy photo! For the stuffing, we used 1 lb. ground pork and added 1/2 cup of cooked couscous, 1/4 cup minced shallots, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp finely chopped oregano, and 1 tsp finely chopped sage. Mix it together. 

Sorry for the crappy photo! For the stuffing, we used 1 lb. ground pork and added 1/2 cup of cooked couscous, 1/4 cup minced shallots, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp finely chopped oregano, and 1 tsp finely chopped sage. Mix it together.

We took a blanched grape leaf and placed about a tbsp in the center. Next, we folded the stem end over the filling, folded in the edges of both sides, and wrapped it up. This is like rolling an eggroll!

We took a blanched grape leaf and placed about a tbsp in the center. Next, we folded the stem end over the filling, folded in the edges of both sides, and wrapped it up. This is like rolling an eggroll!

In a large pan, place the 20 Dolmades down and pour in 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, and just enough water to fill the grape leaves. You can also use chicken stock.

In a large pan, place the 20 Dolmades down and pour in 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, and just enough water to fill the grape leaves. You can also use chicken stock.

To prevent the stuffed grape leaves from floating around and unwrapping, we placed a heavy plate on top. Another option is to use a pan that will hold all of the rolls snugly, that way you don't have to worry about it moving around. This gets cooked on the stove at low heat for about an hour and a half. Let it cool in the liquid when done.

To prevent the stuffed grape leaves from floating around and unwrapping, we placed a heavy plate on top. Another option is to use a pan that will hold all of the rolls snugly, that way you don't have to worry about it moving around. This gets cooked on the stove at low heat for about an hour and a half. Let it cool in the liquid when done.

From our small vineyard to the dinner table! This is our version of Dolmades that is perfect as an appetizer or snack. It's definitely a great way to use the young grape leaves and put it to good use! The leaves are soft and has a tartness from the lemon juice, and the pork filling is flavorful from the fresh herbs. If you haven't eaten grape leaves lately, now's the time to try! We have plenty to give you. Ha!

From our small vineyard to the dinner table! This is our version of Dolmades that is perfect as an appetizer or snack. It's definitely a great way to use the young grape leaves and put it to good use! The leaves are soft and has a tartness from the lemon juice, and the pork filling is flavorful from the fresh herbs. If you haven't eaten grape leaves lately, now's the time to try! We have plenty to give you. Ha!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Dolmades – Stuffed Grape Leaves with Pork and Couscous

34 responses so far

34 Responses to “Dolmades – Stuffed Grape Leaves with Pork and Couscous”

  1. lanon 06 May 2010 at 12:59 pm

    hmm..that looks sooo tasty..we’re big grape eaters…we’ll help you! ;p

  2. Sandyon 06 May 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I’ll help you eat it too! :)

    Man you guys push out posts as fast as I can read them! Love that you have so much use for everything in your backyard!

  3. Sara from Texason 06 May 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Big fan of Dolmades. These look great! Will be trying these out soon…

  4. Alisaon 06 May 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I have actually never had this appetizer, but it is all too familiar. So cool that you even clipped your own grape leaves!
    .-= Alisa´s last blog ..BSI: Baby Artichoke Salad with Cheater’s Creamy Curry Dressing =-.

  5. Chrison 06 May 2010 at 2:35 pm

    man… that thing looks good.

  6. Liz Marr, MS, RDon 06 May 2010 at 3:34 pm

    We made a vegetarian version of Dolmades a couple months ago but the recipe was overpowered with vinegar. These sound delicious. How lucky for you that you have grapes vines in your backyard.
    .-= Liz Marr, MS, RD´s last blog ..Can I Make Backyard Vegetable Garden More Local? =-.

  7. IslandEATon 06 May 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Hi, Krissy and Daniel. I enjoy reading your blog so much that I am giving you a Sunshine Award. Stop by my site to read why: http://islandeat.wordpress.com/.

    Yours,

    Dan

  8. Rachelon 06 May 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve never had Dolmades before, but anytime you need to get rid of extra grape leaves, I’m more than happy to help you eat them! They look delicious!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..“Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before…” =-.

  9. 5 Star Foodieon 06 May 2010 at 6:05 pm

    How cool that you got the grape leaves right from your backyard! The dolmades look excellent, delicious filling!
    .-= 5 Star Foodie´s last blog ..Braised Wild Boar Belly =-.

  10. Leahon 06 May 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Wow…what a fantastic idea! I never thought about using the leaves from my own grapevines to make this dish (which happens to be one of my favorites).

    Can you use any variety of grape leaves, or is one type more suited for this than another? I have 3-4 varieties growing right now and grapes have been growing on some of them for about a month now. The kids are chomping at the bit for some homegrown grapes!
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Alsatian Appies & Bubbly for Mom’s Day =-.

  11. thefoodaddictson 06 May 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Hi Dan (IslandEAT), thanks for your thoughtful comments on your site about our food blog! We’re honored to receive the “Sunshine Award.” Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

    Hi Leah, you can use any grape leaves, as long as they are young and tender. They should be the size of your hand. And right now is the best time to harvest these leaves. Good luck!

  12. tasteofbeiruton 06 May 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I posted a while back about swiss chard leaves which in Lebanese cuisine are used interchangeably with grape leaves; you are doing the right thing here by using fresh leaves! The canned ones give you a mediocre result!
    I also wanted to say that in our cuisine some people like to use bulgur (the coarse one) to stuff their grape leaves and other vegetables. I am a big fan of bulgur.
    I love what you did and will be back visiting soon!

  13. Simoneon 07 May 2010 at 12:38 am

    That looks delicious. I am not a really big fan of grapeleaves but my boyfriend is. I would love to try and make these myself, but – unfortunately – in our small garden we have no grapes! I might ask the neighbours though as they do!
    .-= Simone´s last blog ..Strawberry tomato salad with balsamic =-.

  14. tigerfishon 07 May 2010 at 2:21 am

    You know how this reminds me of Chinese dim-sum Glutinous Rice wrapped in Lotus-Leaf except we don’t eat those wrapping leaves…but these grape leaves are edible!
    .-= tigerfish´s last blog ..Snacks, old and new, reveal our age? + winner of $60 CSN Gift Certificate =-.

  15. graceon 07 May 2010 at 3:27 am

    i actually have eaten grape leaves before, and just like this–dolmades are a frequent selection of mine at my favorite lebanese restaurant. i’ve never made them at home though–impressive work!
    .-= grace´s last blog ..crumby, but not crummy =-.

  16. TasteHongKongon 07 May 2010 at 6:17 am

    I once used dried grape leaves as my bookmarks, now I know these bookmarks are edible : ).
    .-= TasteHongKong´s last blog ..Job’s Tears aka Coix Seeds =-.

  17. A Canadian Foodieon 07 May 2010 at 10:17 am

    How ripe do the vines have to be?b I make dolmades all of the time using the leaves preserved in a jar. These are not brined, so I cannot imagine how different the flavour must be. I really want to try these. My in-laws grow grapes and we will be there in July when the grapes are still far too young to harvest. Are the leaves fine to harvest then? The grapes are usually ready at the end of August.
    I look forward to your response – as I have actually thought about using their leaves, then thought they must have to be brined first.
    :)
    So excited to see this!
    Valerie
    .-= A Canadian Foodie´s last blog ..Neal’s Yard Dairy in London =-.

  18. Chef Eon 07 May 2010 at 2:22 pm

    If I felt like it (but we have colds) I would type ‘JEALOUS’ a million times…how cool is that!

    Looks great, and luckily we have grape leaves available from our local vineyard. He is nice enough to give me all I want before they begin to prune back, and they keep in a pickle/water solution in a mason jar for a little while.
    .-= Chef E´s last blog ..‘Soegalbi’ Korean BBQ =-.

  19. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elizabeth Stelling, The Food Addicts. The Food Addicts said: The Food Addicts Presents!: Dolmades – Stuffed Grape Leaves with Pork and Couscous http://bit.ly/dr4ubL [...]

  20. kristyon 08 May 2010 at 12:55 am

    Oh yes, I’ve seen some making these before. I was amazed by the recipe. Never thought that the grape’s leaves can be eaten! How’s it taste like? I mean the cooked leaves!
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Have a great time!
    Cheers, Kristy
    .-= kristy´s last blog ..Peppermint Patties For Mother’s Day =-.

  21. A Canadian Foodieon 08 May 2010 at 10:36 am

    So, If they are bigger than the size of my hand, I don’t use them? Do they freeze? They must freeze well. I am not sure what zone you are in for growing things compared to my mother in low – but knowing they must be young does help. Can you tell me what phase the grapes are in when they are still good to use?
    .-= A Canadian Foodie´s last blog ..A Time to Celebrate Helen (My Mom): on her 80th Birthday =-.

  22. thefoodaddictson 08 May 2010 at 10:56 am

    A Canadian Foodie – Here is an article that would best help you answer your questions about grape leaves. Unfortunately, since we are not grape leaf experts, we don’t want to give you wrong information. Hope the link below helps!

    http://greekfood.about.com/od/ingredientpreptechniques/a/abelofylla.htm

  23. Sherrillon 08 May 2010 at 12:34 pm

    You guys (plus Chester too, ofcourse), and your backyard are freaking awesome!! Anyways, love reading your blog, and your pics are always so visually stimulating…
    LOVE IT.

  24. marla {family fresh cooking}on 08 May 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I have always loved stuffed grape leaves. Yours look wonderful. Thanks for the lovely step by step directions.

  25. sweetlifeon 08 May 2010 at 10:11 pm

    awesome from backyard to table, it doesn’t get any better, I love the filling so flavorful…great recipe thanks for sharing

    sweetlife
    .-= sweetlife´s last blog ..Happy Cinco De Mayo!!! =-.

  26. Conor @ HoldtheBeefon 09 May 2010 at 6:53 am

    Ooh I love dolmades! Have never had them with couscous, but that’s a great idea. My parents have a couple of grapevines, I’ll have to put some of the leaves to good use next spring/summer.
    .-= Conor @ HoldtheBeef´s last blog ..Subha Aluth Avuruddhak Wewa =-.

  27. Gastronomeron 09 May 2010 at 11:51 am

    your garden rules!
    .-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..Swiss Air =-.

  28. delishhhon 10 May 2010 at 5:09 pm

    MMMmmmmm always wanted to make dolmades, and this is a great start. I just stumbled across your site. Great blog, love it.
    .-= delishhh´s last blog ..Guest Post from Recaptured Charm: Embellishing With Food =-.

  29. Jessicaon 14 May 2010 at 11:08 am

    These look fantastic!
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Friday Garden =-.

  30. Alexandraon 04 Jun 2010 at 11:46 am

    I can’t wait to make these, I have been looking for a great recipe like this one….thanks for sharing!!

  31. Shazzaon 27 Jul 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Guys they look great! I make dolmades all the time. Wish I could source fresh grape leaves too! Try making them with rice, sundried tomato and fetta! Delish!!

  32. Jo531on 18 Nov 2010 at 9:06 pm

    The grape leaves that my Lebanese uses come from a special grape plant that does not bear grapes! The leaves are more delicate and tender. Since she moved, I have propagated several plants. They love Dallas. The Dolmas are made from rice and a tiny bit of ground beef. They are the size of a cigarette, skinny. The ground beef help make the broth savory. Fat dolmas are made by inexperienced cooks. They are delicious and healthy!

  33. Lydiaon 05 Jun 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Just to share, I live in middle Tennessee, USA and wild grapevines grow everywhere. I have them all over the fence in my backyard. It gets little flowers or what looks like baby fruits in the spring, but I have never seen it actually make grapes! I am experimenting…the vines constantly produce new leaves, and I can feel the difference between a tender and a tough one. Seems like the youngest leaves are usually a brighter color green. I have read in many places to pick them in the spring, but I’m going to be monitoring the leaves throughout the year to see if I notice much difference.

    I have been stuffing mine with 1 c. rice to 1/4 c. red lentils plus herbs and spices. Quite good. But the meat gives a different taste. I won’t be using pork, though….my child’s father is Turkish and has a prejudice against pork.

  34. Wanda Davison 02 Jan 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Grape leaves are terrific! I cook them at least twice a year and my husband really loves them. I have used ground meat instead of pork and I have also added tomato sauce. It is a delicious dish and I think everyone should try it!

    Happy New Year! Wanda

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