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Old 01-09-2007, 04:29 AM   #1
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Dolmades variations?

After years and years in Greece, today for the first time I got introduced to the idea of making dolmades with something other than grape leaves -- specifically, either with swiss chard or lettuce.

I was at my local street market buying greens to make a spanakopita when the woman next to me out of the blue asked me if I'd ever made dolmades out of what we call "seskulo" (which after a Google search I found to be either swiss chard in the U.S. or "leaf's beet" in the U.K.). Then the woman selling the greens chimed in and they both began to give me instructions on how to work the leaves. It was the vendor who added that she also frequently made them using lettuce (presumably romain which is our most ubiquitous lettuce), both of these presumably being just winter options for those who don't want to use jarred grape leaves but can't wait until spring to get their fresh grape leaves!

Anyhow, now I'm curious and thinking I'll give it a try. I do love seskulo just sauteed in a bit of olive oil and garlic -- very nice green.

Anyone else ever tried any variations? (cabbage leaves excluded!)

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Old 01-09-2007, 04:57 AM   #2
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Dh's mother and sister (in Turkey) have always used just the grape leaves. I'm curious what filling you will try with the romaine leaves or swiss chard. I personally think the romaine would be too light in flavor for meat dolmades. The rice filling would be nice for romaine, and perhaps the meat/rice filling for the swiss chard. I'm assuming you'll blanche the lettuces first? Will you marinate them as well? I've only ever used jarred graped leaves.
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Old 01-09-2007, 05:04 AM   #3
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I'd never heard of using anything but grape leaves either! And yet, why not? I'm definitely up for a go!

I agree with you about the swiss chard maybe being more suited for the meat/rice and the romaine for a meatless. In that case (I hadn't really thought this out yet) I guess I'll use my standard fillings -- with some tomato in with the meat mixture but no sauce; and just with celery and dill in the vegetarian filling, but with an egg/lemon ('avgolemono') sauce.

Yes, they both suggested trimming the stalk and briefly blanching to soften. As for marinating ... do you mean the leaves alone? Don't know, never done that. Do you think there's a reason to? (I've only ever used fresh leaves).
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:48 AM   #4
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What about using napa cabbage?

I didn't know there were different fillings for dolmades?? I've had some where I liked the taste, and others where it was too vinegary. How is it supposed to taste?

EDIT: OOOOOOOOOPS!!!!!! Just noticed that cabbage leaves was excluded, SOWWY!!! LoL
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:24 AM   #5
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Cabbage leaves certainly work for making little wrapped up things, it's just that I think of them as a category unto themselves, i.e. cabbage rolls.

The two dolmades fillings I know and make are (1) with meat, and (2) vegetarian. The first one has ground beef (and/or lamb), rice, onions or scallions, and tomato (and salt, pepper, and that sort of thing). The vegetarian one has lots of finely-chopped celery and dill and rice of course, and seasonings. They both have plenty of olive oil, too.

But that's just us! Probably other people have other variations? I was reading through my new Middle Eastern cookbook last night and saw that some variations have pine nuts, and/or currents which sounds delicious too!
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:36 AM   #6
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My Armenian ancesters make a dish similar to dolmades. We call them dolma.

My mom used to make them using grape leaves, cabbage and various other hollowed out veggies such as red and green tomatos, zucchini and, the ubiquitous green pepper. They are all cooked in stock in a large pot and are delicious. I like mine with plain yogurt on top.
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:39 AM   #7
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Drool :-)
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Old 01-09-2007, 01:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
My Armenian ancesters make a dish similar to dolmades. We call them dolma.
Dh's family is Armenian. They were displaced to Turkey during the genocide. Dh loves the stuffed peppers,too, but unfortunately, we can only find the right green peppers in Turkey. Everywhere else, they are these large, thick-skinned peppers instead of the the light green thin-skinned peppers here in Turkey.
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Old 01-13-2007, 02:12 AM   #9
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Well, did you make them? :-)
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Old 01-13-2007, 02:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gossie
Well, did you make them? :-)
Was that directed toward me, Gossie?

If so, answer's "no -- not yet". Just been a busy week, and dolmades are not the kind of thing I whip up when a million other things are calling to me!

I'll try to remember to let you know when I do, if you'd like. (Did I tell you that I asked around here in Greece and nearby and found that several people quite regularly make dolmades with lettuce, and think they're particularly nice? What's so great about that is that it gives us a winter option for dolmades which have up to now been pretty much a spring/summer treat!)
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Old 02-04-2007, 08:17 AM   #11
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I haven't made them in years, but I like the vegetarian version. I cook the rice 'til it is almost done, then add nuts (either pine nuts or pistachios), finely chopped onions, and if it is the season, some fresh herbs (if not I use Cavendar's Greek seasoning). Then I wrap and slowly cook in a half/half chicken stock and white wine.
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Old 09-29-2007, 05:24 PM   #12
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I've made dolmades with chinese cabbage. I had good results. If you're going to try seskoula you might as well try large leaf spinach
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:44 PM   #13
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As the grape leaves are hard to find in my country, I use to make dolmades with sorrel leaves, and I also found silverbeet to be interesting as well. (Though it has not that sour hint as grape leaves and sorrel.) Also I use cabbage... but then it's quite a different dish and needs some changes of the filling.
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Old 10-13-2007, 02:15 AM   #14
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It's not really necessary to pre cook the rice.I usually grate a lot of onion on the large holes of a cheese grater and then I mince fresh spearmint, fennel leaves, and dill, add it to the raw rice and mix it up with EVO,salt and pepper. Sometimes I add pinenuts and raisins. I put a few grape leaves on the bottom of the pot,fit the dolma tightly , cover them with water,a a bit of oil, andI put a plate on top so they don't lose their shape.
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Old 10-13-2007, 03:33 AM   #15
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that's the first time i've ever seen fennel leaves as an ingredient. thanks, chefellas.
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Old 10-13-2007, 03:51 AM   #16
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you're more than welcome,buckytom. I use fennel leaves quite alot. fennel bulbs here are expensive while the leaves are pretty cheap. when i make hortopitta which is a pie of different greens(spinach, chard,whatever is available) i'll use a combo of dill, fennel greens and many other aromatic greens which I don't know the name of in english. it's nice to have all the different flavors popping into you mouth!
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Old 10-17-2007, 05:00 AM   #17
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I only pre-cook the rice as a short-cut. I like to make the vegetarian version because when it is a large group, it is nice to have something tasty on hand for the veggies in any group. I didn't mention it, but a touch (not a lot) of dried fruit, chopped, is also a good addition (raisins, currants, dates, etc ... but not too much) to the filling. Personally, I like ground lamb in mine!!!!
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Old 10-17-2007, 08:08 AM   #18
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I use the meat stuffing ( or a mashed potato stuffing ) to fill zucchinii flowers. Very yummy.
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