This vegetarian recipe actually is coming from my friend Helen Karamalakos’ mother. It is filled with sweet onions, rice, fresh dill.
My recipe has two added ingredients which are fresh mint and feta. I only added the fresh mint to my friend’s recipe below, but try it with feta as well you will not be disappointed. The flavors of either recipe are delicious and addicting. The burst of delicious textures and taste make it very hard to eat just one. Kind of like a potato chip, but I don’t advise carrying a bag of these Dolmades around. You may scare a few people off if they see a grape leaf hanging out of your mouth, LOL!
- 1 16oz jar of grape leaves, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 8 cups of Sweet onion or Vidalia onions, diced (6-8 onions)
- 1 1/2 cups uncle bens converted rice
- one large bunch of fresh dill chopped (2cups)
- one large bunch of fresh mint chopped (2cups)
- 1 lb of domestic feta crumbles fine (optional)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. pepper
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 3 cups water or chicken stock (if not making vegetarian)
Drain the jar of grape leaves, rinse, separate and cut off the little stem at the base of the leaf. Sauté the chopped onions on low heat with 1 cup of the olive oil until soft and transparent, about 30 minutes. Add the rice, dill, mint, sugar, feta, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of lemon juice to onions and mix well.
Line the bottom of a heavy pot with the smaller or torn grape leaves which will help keep them from burning. Taking one leaf at a time, place 1 tsp to the base of the leaf, fold over and roll, tucking in sides and you will end up with a little log that looks like a cigar. Place them in the pot starting at the edges and work your way to the middle. Squeeze them in as close as possible to prevent them from splitting open as the rice cooks. Continue to roll completely filling the bottom of the pan with the grape leaves. Add a second layer if you need to, just remember to place loose grape leaves on top of this layer to separate them from the second layer.
Combine water or chicken stock with 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup olive oil, mix well and pour over the grape leaves. Find a heavy plate that just fits inside the pot and place on top of grape leaves. I start out with the flame on med. heat to get the liquid hot, I let this go for about 15 min. Then I turn the heat to low and cover with a lid and let cook slowly for about 1 1/2 hours longer. Remember, you do not want them mushy, so feel free after 1 hour to lift the dish and stick a knife into one of the grape leaves to see if they are tender. Remove from heat, let cool, then slowly remove from pan to a platter. I like to drizzle a little olive oil on top and serve with lemon wedges.
Serve these cold or at room temperature, they are a wonderful delicious appetizer. You can even freeze them once they are completely cooled by lining them up in a Tupperware and covering with some of the juice from the pot. Thank you to my friend Helen for this wonderful recipe. Also, thank you to Shenandoah Cute from Local Mojo in Ocean City for selling my Dolmades in her shop. The products I take her will vary, so just stop in to see her and check out all the other goodies in her wonderful shop.