Rice With Ampelofylla, Stafides & Koukounaria

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Me thinks this blog is overdue for focusing on a side dish. We all make side dishes to go with our mains and in the blogging perspective, the side dish does get short shrift. The title of this dish translated into English is Rice With Grape Vine Leaves, Raisins and Pine Nuts.

What I’ve done here is a riff on Dolmades Gialantzi, the vegetarian Dolmades. Dolmades Gialantzi may contain rice, onion, garlic, herbs (parsley, mint, dill), currants, sultanas or raisins, pine nuts and lemon juice. What I’ve done here is deconstruct the ingredients and present them in a different way – baked in a casserole with finely chopped grape vine leaves strewn in the mix.

This dish could also make for a wonderful side dish for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinners. Thanksgiving? Yeah, it’s this Monday here in Canada (the only Thanksgiving that really matters, no?). The side also goes wonderfully with a main of fish or poultry and exotic combo will transport you to Constantinople of yore.

The grape vine leaves used here come from the jarred variety you may find in the international aisle of your supermarket or at a Greek, middle-eastern or Turkish specialty store. They (leaves) are picked in the Spring time when they are still tender, blanched and jarred with a lemon-brine. I pick and jar my own grape leaves (recipe here) but again, you’ll need the brine-packed grape vine leaves.

For added colour and added nutritional value, I’ve chosen a blend of long-grain rice and wild rice that many of you can find at your supermarkets. Wild rice is really not a wild rice at all- it’s larger and denser than rice and more water and cooking time is required. Don’t bother to attempt to cook rice and wild rice separately. Just buy the pre-blended packages – others have done the grunt work for you.

Me, I’ve just made your life a little easier with this simple, delicious and healthy side dish.

Rice With Ampelofylla, Stafides & Koukounaria (Ρυζι με Αμπελοφυλλα, Σταφιδες και Κουκουναρια)

(serves 4)

1 cup of wild rice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced (or 1/3 cup)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp. of fresh lemon verbena (or mint), finely chopped

2 Tbsp. + 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (reserve half for the end)

2 Tbsp. of raisins

2 Tbsp. of pine nuts

6 grape vine leaves, jarred in brine – rinsed and sliced into thin ribbons (chiffonade)

3 cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

fresh ground pepper

Pre-heated 400F oven

  1. In a skillet, add your olive oil over medium heat then add the onions and garlic and stir. Reduce to medium-low and saute until translucent. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes or until the rice toasts a bit and absorbs some of the oil.
  2. Take off the heat and empty into your baking vessel. Add the parsley, lemon verbena (or mint), 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice, the raisins, pine nuts and the ribbons of grape vine leaves. Now add the hot stock and stir to incorporate.
  3. Place in your pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes uncovered or until there’s no more liquid in your baking vessel. Remove from the oven and add the chopped fresh dill and fluff and stir with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding fresh ground pepper at this phase. You may add the reserved 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice and mix into the rice.
  4. Serve as a side with a fish or chicken main course.

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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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16 Comments for “Rice With Ampelofylla, Stafides & Koukounaria”


Peter, that is a gorgeous dish. Better still, I like and can get everything used in the recipe. Hope all is well. Blessings…Mary


What a great idea for some Asia-Minor Greek T-Day stuffing! I’ve always been rather intimated by grape leaves, but the thought the shredding them up into rice with some stafides sounds oh so fun-delicious.


I never tried vine leaves and rice prepared this way before…I’ll give it a go – I have a packet of leaves in my fridge waiting to be used for 2 weeks already. I was lazy to roll them…No excuses anymore!


I like the notion of a deconstructed dolma. It takes away all the effort and one is left with the great taste. I had never thought about it actually.



Peter, what a wonderful idea! I ALWAYS put koukounaria and raisins in my Kathari Deftera dolmades galanzti, the only time of year I commit to rolling all those vine leaves (although my Constantinopoli-raised mother-in-law gently corrects me that pine nuts and raisins only go in stuffed tomatoes and NOT in dolmades). I can’t wait to make this less time-comsuming version as a side dish. Thanks!