Despite the fact that Greek food shares an exceptionally similar spice palate to Italian dishes, many of us don’t actually know a huge amount about Greek cuisine other than kebabs! Beautiful, traditional char-grilled meat is definitely a Greek speciality, but there are many more dishes that arguably better epitomise the nation’s culture. From tzatziki (a cucumber, garlic and yoghurt dip) to moussaka (a layered dish of lamb and aubergine, baked), the Greek diet embraces rich, meaty flavours and just the right dash of gentle spices and punchy herbs.
Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) are a firm favourite among the Greeks, and can comprise a light lunch or a heartier main meal if served with roast potatoes and a Greek salad. Similar variations of this dish echo across the Middle East and more central parts of Europe, but we remain firm in our decision that the Greek dolmades are among the best of stuffed vine leaves, and you’ll find a recipe for them below – enjoy!
- 12 large vine leaves in brine
- 2 fl oz of cooked basmati rice
- 700g of peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- Half a lemon, juiced
- 25g of pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
- Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to season
Firstly, it’s important to soak the vine leaves in boiling water for around twenty minutes. This means any of the brine taste will be soaked out, and the leaves will be a little easier to roll! Drain them and spread each leaf out flat with the vein side facing up.
Taking a frying pan and the oil, heat the pine nuts until they’re golden and then add the pre-cooked rice, all the herbs and spices, the garlic, the puree and half of the tomatoes. Stir this mixture for two minutes. Next, add the lemon juice and season with some salt and pepper. Now you’re ready to stuff those vine leaves!
Taking a dessertspoonful of the rice mixture, spoon it onto the stalk end of the vine leaf and roll it up, creating a sausage-like shape. Tuck in the ends to ensure the mixture doesn’t spill out, and repeat until the rest of the vine leaves are filled!
Put the remaining tomatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish, and arrange the filled vine leaves on top, sprinkling a little extra oregano on for good measure. Top the dish up with a little water – around 50ml – and simmer or bake at a very low heat for an hour. The dolmades can be served cold, but arguably taste best hot!
The original recipe was posted on Delia Online. Enjoy!