A question was asked about how to approach making Dolmadakia if one has fresh grape leaves on hand. One simply boils the leaves in salted water (blanching) for 3-4 minutes and remove the stem before making the parcels. This instruction plus how to jar your own leaves are nicely laid out here.
Dolmadakia (little Dolmades) are delicate little parcels made from grape (vine leaves). The name comes from the Turkish word “Dolma” or “stuffed”. They are usually stuffed with rice and other various fillings as a vegetarian option or more commonly served with rice, ground meat and herbs.
Again, as a child I was not a fan of Dolmades but I’m so glad to be blessed with being open-minded and pragmatic about many things, including food (I’m still waiting for someone to convert me to liver & onions).
Practically everyone I’ve met who’s enjoyed Greek food has eaten Dolmades. I’m going to show you the most common recipe, with rice and ground beef.
I’m also going to show you how to roll the Dolmades into parcels and a slightly different way to cook them. If you search other Dolamades recipes, you’ll see that most employ the stove-top method whereas, my mom insists the oven works better and there’s no need to use a plate to weigh down your dolmades.
Your first task will be to find grape (vine) leaves at the market. Look for them in jars in the ethnic/international aisle in your supermarket or a Greek-owned market, or Middle-eastern market. I’ve also seen the leaves at Gourmet stores but you’ll be paying extra cash for what’s basically the same product everywhere.
Dolmades are great served as part of a buffet spread if you’re expecting lots of family or friends at your home. They can be served as an appetizer (meze) or as a main course. What’s the difference between the appetizer and the main? About 6 more Dolmades on your plate!
30 grape leaves (fresh or jarred)
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 bunches of scallions, fine chop
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Approx. 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
- Prepare an ice water bath and set aside.
- To prepare grape leaves, bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, add grape leaves, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes (depending upon the size of the leaves) or until leaves are tender but still hold their shape.
- Remove grape leaves from the water and submerge them in the ice water bath. Allow the leaves to cool for 5 minutes and then strain.
- Using a paring knife, remove the stem from each vine leaf and reserve. Let’s move on to preparing the filling.
- In a large skillet, add your olive oil to the pan and medium heat, saute your scallions for about 5 minutes to soften.
- Add your chopped herbs, tomato sauce and mix well while cooking for another five minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and allow to cool for a 10 minutes.
- Add your ground beef and rice to the skillet and mix it in well with the rest of the filling.
- Place the shiny side of the leaf face down (the veins should face inward). Drop about a tablespoon of filling in the center.
- Flip the bottom part of the leaf over, then fold the sides of the leaf in then, roll the leaf towards the top to form your parcel (each parcel should be snug, but not tight).
- Place your Dolmadaki into a casserole dish and repeat steps 8 and 9, filling your casserole with Dolmadakia, side by side until the the bottom is completely covered. Continue layering the Dolmadakia until the casserole is filled with your parcels.
- Pour the stock into the casserole (enough to just cover the dolmades) and put the lid on the casserole (or cover) and place into a preheated 375F oven and cook for 60-70 minutes.
For the Avgolemeno
- In a large bowl, beat eggs and flour with a fork or a whisk until they begin to get foamy, about 3 minutes.
- Add lemon juice in a steady stream, and continue beating for an additional minute.
- Add the hot cooking liquid (one ladle at a time) from the dolmathes, and beat for 1 minute more.
- Pour some sauce back into the casserole with the dolmathes and the rest into another medium pot.
- Stirring constantly, heat sauce over low heat for about 3 minutes (do not let it come to a boil. Adjust seasoning with salt.
- Pour over the warm Dolmadakia or serve on the side.
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