How To Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

Stuffed grape leaves, also known as dolmades are some of my favorite finger food for parties.  Although assembling each of these tart Mediteranean treats can be time consuming, they’re really easy to do.  Once you start making them, you can get on a roll and the process can become quite meditative.  People love the salty tangy taste of the pickled grape leaves, tempered by the sticky dill and rice filling, and they’re always impressed you made them.  So let me help you impress your friends with some stuffed deliciousness.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

  • 2 c. dry rice
  • 4 c. vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. chopped dill
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbs pomegranate syrup**
  • 1 8 oz. jar of pickled grape leaves*

* Grape leaves can easily be found at any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean market.  You can also check the ethnic isle of your local grocery store.

** Pomegranate syrup can also be found at your local Middle Eastern market as well.  If you don’t have any or can’t find it, you can substitute a fruit jam as a sweetener for your filling.

Prepare filling: Mix the dry rice with the vegetble or chicken stock and salt and cook.  Chop red onion and dill.  Once cooked, mix rice, red onion, dill, pommegranate syrup and lemon juice.  Taste and season according to taste.  If bland, add more salt, lemon and/or onion.  You can add more pomegranate syprup if it needs a bit more sweetener.

Wrap Grape Leaves:  Remove grape leaves from jar, unfold and allow to drain in a colander for 5-10 minutes. Clip any stems off grape leaves.  To assmeble the grape leaves follow these steps:

1.  Place a single grape leave on a wooden board with the veiny side face up.  Place 1 Tbs of filling onto the leaf, at the center of the base near the stems.

2.  Fold the bottom of the leaf up until it just covers the filling.

3.  Fold both sides of the leaf inward, around the filling.

4.  Roll forward over the remainder of the leaf to complete the stuffed grape leaf.

Repeat process until you run out of leaves, filling or both.

Poach Dolmades: the final step to completing your stuffed grape leaves is to poach them to soften the leaves and consolidate the filling.  Place the stuffed grape leaves in the bottom of a pan.  Add water until grape leaves are almost covered submerged in water but not covered.  Weigh down with a few heavy plates.  Over high heat, bring water to a boil and then reduce water to a simmer.  Simmer for 25 minutes.

Chill completed dolmades over night:  Remove grape leaves from the pan and place in a sealed container.  Chill overnight to allow the flavors to mature.

Serve cold.  Yum!

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