The Greeks have been wrapping food since Antiquity, most especially with grape leaves. In early May, Greek agricultural women go to the vineyard to gather their year´s supply of grape leaves. A standard Meze, or appetiser is a simple Rice filling.
On one of our uncountable trips to Greece, Chef Christoforos Peskias in Athens, provided me with this classic recipe which he serves at his wonderful restaurant in the heart of Athens, Restaurant 48.
When CWS, posted her need for a great recipe, I went into the Greek diaries, and I selected this classic, which can be employed with a rice filling, a shrimp filling and / or a lamb filling of choice. Do please note that this dish in Greece is served with Tzatziki, a Greek Yogurt side.
Classic Dolmades by Chef Christoforos Peskias
16 Ounces or 460 Grams of Fresh Grape Leaves or Jar Variety
120 Ml. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece, Italy or Spain
6 to 8 large onions chopped finely
3 Scallions, Leeks or Spring Onions finely chopped
4 Garlic Cloves Minced
Long grain Rice or Wild Rice of choice 200 grams or 1 cup
Mixed Herbs Combined Well: fresh dill, fresh mint, fresh fennel seed and fresh parsley flat leaf Italian style and fresh oregano leaf or a pinch of dry
Salt and freshly ground black, rose and green peppercorns
2 Lemons Juiced
Strained Greek Yogurt
1) rinse the grape leaves well
2) blanch in salted boiling water for 4 minutes
3) remove with slotted spoon and place in ice cold water and drain well
4) sweat the onions and scallions over low flame in EVOO until very tender and very lightly caramelized
5) add the garlic and let sauté a few minutes
6) add the rice and sauté for 5 minutes
7) season with the freshly grinded peppercorns and salt
8) add 500 ML. water or home made chicken stock if you prefer and cover and simmer until the rice is softened however, not mushy and cooked too much, and all the liquid has been absorbed
9) remove from heat and let cool
10) when the rice mixture is cool completely, mix in the fennel herb mixture and 2 tblsps. of Evoo
11) sort the grape leaves and place wripped or unusable ones on bottom of pot and enough to cover the surface. Snip any hard stems from all leaves before using.
12) take 1 Teaspoon of flavored scented Rice at a time, and place in centre of each leaf. First fold up the bottom portion of the leaf, and tuck in the sides.
13) Roll upward to close each leaf like a rolled packet
14) place 1 dolmade seam side down at a time, next to each other, in one or two layers and continue until all the filling is used
15) drizzle lemon juice over grape leaves and pour in enough water to come about 2/3 the way up the dolmades and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the circumference of the pot and place it snuggly over the dolmades
16) place a plate over the parchment to keep rolled leaves in place
17) cover the pot and bring to simmer over medium heat
18) reduce to low and simmer for 35 minutes, to 40 minutes until the leaves are tender and the Rice cooked
19) YIELDS 5 Dozen
20) serve warm or cold with lemon juice and Greek Yogurt
Have a wonderful weekend,