Stuffed grape leaves, or Dolma, can be made in many ways. Grape leaves (here’s how to preserve them naturally through fermentation) can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, this recipe calls for ground lamb, pine nuts, currents, rice and onion mixed with a lot of savory Mediterranean spices. Dolmas make an elegant bite-sized hors d’oeuvre, but are also excellent as a main course (serve them with Greek Lemon Rice…yum!)
Although stuffed grape leaves look fancy, they’re really not hard to prepare. Start by rinsing some pickled grape leaves (look for them in Middle Eastern markets, or order them online if you don’t have access to grape vines). Then, mix up the filling. You can use ground lamb, beef, chicken or turkey for the filling (organic, grass-fed lamb can be ordered online here or here if you can’t find it in your own community). Mix together the ground meat, a finely minced onion, some uncooked rice, olive oil and organic currents and pine nuts with dried mint, parsley, oregano, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Then, dot about a tablespoon of the filling on each grape leaf and carefully roll it up.
It’s not hard to roll the dolmas, just fold the edges in over the filling and roll it up tightly. Place each roll in a stock pot and continue to roll and stack them tightly together. It’s important to pack them in tightly, because you’ll be simmering them in beef stock and if they’re loose the grape leaves may unroll from the filling.
After you’ve got your rolled grape leaves layered in the pot, cover them with sliced lemons. Then, pour enough beef stock in to cover all of them. Put a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil, and let them cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and let them simmer for another 20-25 minutes, until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender.
Remove them from the pot and serve them warm as an appetizer, or serve them over lemon rice. If you have extra lemon-and-stock liquid left over from cooking, it makes a great liquid in which to boil rice or quinoa to go with your dolmas! Just measure it out and add a little extra stock and lemon juice if you need to. Delicious, elegant and healthy, too!
- 2 pounds ground organic meat (grass fed beef or lamb, chicken or turkey...or a combination)
- 1 cup organic white rice (uncooked)
- 1 organic onion, very finely minced
- ½ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup organic currents
- ⅓ cup organic pine nuts
- 1 Tablespoon crushed dried mint
- 1 Tablespoon crushed dried parsely
- 1 Tablespoon organic cracked black pepper
- 3 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 jars grape leaves (or about 35 grape leaves)
- 3 organic lemons, sliced
- organic beef or chicken stock (enough to cover the dolma, 1-2 quarts)
- Unroll and rinse the grape leaves, set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the grape leaves, lemons and beef or chicken stock. Stir very well, until everything is combined and all the spices are distributed throughout the mixture.
- On each grape leaf, place 1-2 tablespoons of meat mixture (depending on the size of your leaf). Fold the edges over the mixture and tightly roll the leaf so that the meat is completely enclosed in the grape leaf.
- Lay the rolled grape leaves in a stock pot, packing them tightly together as you go. Layer them if need be, the more tightly they are packed the less likely any of them will unroll during cooking.
- Once all the stuffed grape leaves are rolled, cover them with slices of lemon and pour enough beef or chicken stock over them to cover them completely.
- Place a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and remove the lid. Simmer for another 20-25 minutes, until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender.
- Remove the dolmas with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a serving plate. Serve warm, as an appetizer or main course.
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