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...
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 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.
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!
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.
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