Stuffed grape leaves or dolmas are a traditional middle eastern delight! My very good Lebanese friend makes these regularly. I was always a little intimidated to make them myself, until one day another good friend, my Greek neighbor, inspired me! I never realized that you can use the wild vine-growing grape leaves that I regularly curse because of how they grow so prolifically all over my property threatening to choke out anything in their path! She gave me a brief tutorial and I had an aha moment!! I set off on my mission.
If you plan on using the wild grape leaves, be sure they are not torn, have any lesions, etc. They should be the size of an average hand. Be certain to cut out the stem before blanching, see pictures. I you’d rather skip that step you can always buy prepared grape leaves ready for stuffing. Amazon does sell them, and I will provide the link at the bottom of this post.
I found this recipe from Olivia’s Cuisine, which is a meat and rice recipe. Some dolmas are just rice, I suppose it is a matter of preference. I like to serve mine with a side of tzatziki.
- 50 to 60 grape leaves (fresh or jarred)
- 6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- 1 cup white basmati rice
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, cut into large rings
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- ½ tsp all spice
- ½ tsp cumin
- a pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet, heat 2Tbsp of the olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the chopped onion and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the spices and let them sweat for a couple more minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the meat, the rice, the onion mixture and the parsley. Mix everything together with your hands until everything is incorporated. Reserve.
- Drain and rinse the grape leaves.
- Take the stems off of every grape leaf and blanch them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.
- To roll the grape leaves, place a leaf with the vein side up on your work surface. Add one tablespoon of the filling mixture to the center of the leaf. Fold the edges in and up and roll the grape leaf until it looks like a cigar, tucking the edges under the roll. Proceed with the other leaves until you’ve run out of filling or leaves.
- Line a heavy bottomed pot with (unrolled) grape leaves. On top of that, add the onion rings.
- Proceed to arrange the stuffed grape leaves in rows, alternating the direction of each layer of rows
- Fill the pot with the chicken broth (enough to cover the rolls) and the remaining olive oil.
- Place a plate on the top to prevent the rolls from floating.
- Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
- When it boils, lower the heat to low and cook for 40 minutes, until meat is cooked and rice is tender.
- Remove the rolls from the broth and serve warm or at room temperature.