Stuffed grapevine leaves-recipe
Stuffed grapevine leaves
Throughout the Middle East and southern Europe, this dish, known as dolmathakia, is a real favorite. Ideally, these are made with the very youngest freshly picked grapevine leaves, although preserved leaves ready for stuffing are widely available. The same stuffing can be used to fill vegetables such as zucchini or tomatoes before baking.
Servings 10 serves
- juice of 3 1/2 lemons
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 16-oz. jar 120–150 grapevine leaves, or equivalent fresh leaves or flat-packed grapevine leaves in brine
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large scallions finely chopped
- 1 lb. zucchini grated
- 1/2 eggplant peeled and grated
- 2 medium carrots grated
- 4 ripe tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon salt. Carefully unroll the leaves without separating them. (It is not unusual for many of the outer leaves in the jar to be damaged or to tear when handled. Set these aside to use later in the recipe.) Turn off the heat and place leaves in the pot for 3 minutes. Remove leaves gently, put them in a bowl, and cover with cold water.
- When cooled, drain in a colander. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and fry the scallions for about 2–3 minutes. Add the zucchini, eggplant, and carrots, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add the rice, parsley, remaining salt, and pepper, and mix well.
- Gently separate one leaf and place it shiny-side down on a work surface. Cut off stem and discard. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling on the leaf at the point where the stem joined the leaf. Fold up bottom of leaf over filling, then each side inward in parallel folds, and roll up the leaf. The roll should be firm, not tight, as the filling will expand during cooking. Repeat until all the filling has been used.
- Put a heatproof plate or thick layer of tightly folded baking parchment on the bottom of a heavy, deep pot. Make sure this is a snug fit. Place the filled grapevine leaves on top, packing them closely together but without squeezing them, seam-side down so they don’t unroll during cooking. Layer them until they are all in the pot (2–3 layers are best, but no more than 4 layers). Place several unused leaves over the top. Turn another plate upside down on top of the stuffed leaves and weight it down. Add 2 cups water to the pot and cover with a lid. Bring the water to a gentle boil, add the remaining lemon juice, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 50–70 minutes. Check for doneness; if the rice has cooked, they are done. If not, continue cooking another 10 minutes and check again. Cooking time depends both on the type of pot used and the stovetop element. Serve hot or cold.