Stuffed Grape Leaves (Greek Dolmades) are often served as part of a meze (appetizer) plate. Too often they come
from a can and are not fresh. Homemade are far superior to the canned. If you have never
tried fresh dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!
Check out Linda's
Stuffed Grape Leaves with Gorgonzola and Olives and also more
Appetizer Recipes for more great appetizer ideas.
Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe -Greek Dolmades Recipe:
Yields: serves many
Prep time: 1 hr
Dolmades cook time: 60 min
Rice Stuffing cook time: 20 min
1 (16-ounce) jar
grape leaves, drained and rinsed*
Rice Stuffing (see recipe below)
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup extra-virgin
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed
Yogurt Cucumber Sauce (see recipe below)
To use fresh grape leaves: Grape leaves are best picked from grape vines in the Spring, while they are still tender. Select young
whole, medium leaves. NOTE: Be sure and pick them before the first spray as
some sprays are toxic. Most of the spays used today are non-toxic and water soluble,
but sulfur taste is not what you want on your grapes. Pick approximately 1 1/2 pounds of fresh leaves which are the same as one jar of preserved leaves.
Using scissors, cut off the stems and either soak in very hot water for
15 minutes to soften or blanch grape leaves until they are soft (the time will depend on the leaves - fresh
ones will only take a minute) They can be washed and frozen between layers of waxed paper
or plastic wrap and will keep for a year. Check out my article on
Using Fresh Grape Leaves.
* Using bottled
Grape Leaves: To prepare bottled grape leaves, rinse
well under cold water to remove the brine. Place them in a colander (back side up) to drain and hold until ready to use.
NOTE: Don't throw away any torn or damaged leaves, as they can be used to patch
holes in other leaves.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the leaves from the water and lay
them on paper towels to drain. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut out the protruding stems and any hard veins
from the leaves. Set the grape leaves aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare Rice Stuffing.
To stuff the leaves, start with your largest leaves. Take a leaf and carefully spread
it on a flat plate or pan with the veins facing upward to you (leaf shiny side
down). If the leaf is torn or has a hole in it, take a reserved damaged leaf and use it as
a patch, place the leaf over the hole.
Place approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons of the Rice Stuffing near the stem end of the leaf
(the amount of stuffing will depend on the size of the leaves).
Press the stuffing into a small sausage-like shape.
Fold the stem end of the leaf over the filling, then fold both sides
toward the middle, and then roll up into a cigar shape (it should be
snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is
fully cooked and could burst). The rolls should be cylindrical
(about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick)
Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the rolls.
Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.
Line the bottom of a large heavy oven-proof dish or pan with half of the remaining
grape leaves (this prevent sticking and is also a good way to use any torn or small
leaves). Arrange the stuffed grape rolls on top of the leaves, seam-side down, packing
them close together. Make a new layer as you fill the baking pan. Two or three layers is
fine (it is very difficult to cook evenly if you make more than four layers of rolls).
NOTE: Don't cramp the rolls together as they won't cook well - also don't leave too much
space between them as they will unravel.
When the bottom is completely covered, place the remaining grape leaves over the top.
Pour the 2 cups hot water, olive oil, and lemon juice over them. Weigh the stuffed grapes
rolls down with an ovenproof plate turned upside down (one smaller than the circumference
of the pan). Cover the baking dish with a lid. On the stovetop, over medium heat, bring
the liquid just to a boil; remove baking dish to the oven and cook approximately 45 to 60
minutes or until the grape rolls are tender and the water has been absorbed
(there should be little or no trace of water, and only a bit of oil in the pot - some of the leaves may
have tiny black specks, or maybe completely black - this is ok). Remove from oven.
Transfer the stuffed grape rolls to a serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges. Serve with
Yogurt Cucumber Sauce.
NOTE: They keep about a week in the refrigerator. If you drain and chill them,
you may want to pour a little olive oil and lemon juice over all to keep from drying out.
For longer storage, the stuffed grape leaves rolls may also be frozen before
Rice Stuffing Recipe:
3 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
raw pine nuts
onion, finely chopped
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups hot water
Juice of 1 freshly-squeezed
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh
dill weed or fresh
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
Soak currants in warm water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes; drain and set aside.
To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add
pine nuts; stir and cook the pine nuts for about 2 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Add pine nuts, onion, white rice, sugar, cinnamon, and hot water; stir the mixture, cover
the pot, and cook gently for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the water has been
absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, dill weed, and parsley.
taste with salt and pepper. Let the stuffing cool for 30 to 40 minutes before stuffing the
prepared grape leaves.
Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce Recipe:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup diced cucumber
3/4 teaspoon dried
In a bowl, combine yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, and dill weed.
Allow flavors to blend in the refrigerator 2 to 3 hours before serving.