Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)


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Last post for this impromptu “Greek Week” theme I have going on here.

As I was planning my grocery list for the Keftedes / meatballs, I realized that I was only one ingredient away from Dolmades (Dolmathes), or another Greek favorite–stuffed grape leaves.
You’ll notice I can’t decide how to spell certain Greek words in the Latin alphabet.  Sometimes I use ‘d’ and sometimes I use ‘th’.  This is because technically the Delta (uppercase Δ, lowercase δ; δέλτα)  is pronounced like ‘dth’ or the ‘th’ in then.  Check it out, if you care to learn something you might not have known.

Moving on to the recipe:

Ingredients:

IMG 1272 225x300   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

Grape Leaves

  • Grape leaves (I found a jar of these at Giant, so they are more ubiquitous than I expected). 1 jar or about 50leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped leek or onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh mint (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh fennel (or dill) (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (optional) or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1.5-2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • chicken broth / tomato sauce if you have it, for baking

Directions:

  • Remove rolls of grape leaves from jar and unroll.  This is tricky.  Rise it under cold or warm water while attempting to unroll to avoid tearing the leaves as much as possible.  Layer grape leaves in a dish of warm water to soften them so that you can roll them easily later.  Cut any long stems off  the leaves.

    IMG 1268 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Grape leaves soaking to soften

  • My recipe did not call for sauteing anything prior to baking it.  While these turned out decent, I’d be interested in finding out if they were better if you did saute the ingredients first to brown the meat and cook the onion/leek/garlic until translucent.  If you’d like to try this, at this stage, saute the garlic and leek in olive oil for a few minutes.  Optionally brown the meat with these items as well.
  • In a large bowl, mix together rice, leek/onion, garlic, mint, fennel/ dill, oregano, parsley (if using), salt and pepper. Add ground beef and mix thoroughly.
  • Lay grape leaves out one by one, with the rough edges up.  Spoon a large tablespoon of mixture onto each grape leaf and roll from the bottom up, tucking the sides in to hold in the mixture.  Wrap as tightly as possible and do not overfill.  Add grape leaves to a dutch oven or pressure cooker, packed tightly with the seams facing down, in layers.  Grape leaves will unroll when cooking if they are not packed extremely tightly(trust me). You can line the bottom of the pot with torn/unused grape leaves.
    IMG 1275 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Start rolling from the bottom

    IMG 1277 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Tuck the sides in to secure the mixture

    IMG 1278 300x236   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    rolled stuffed grape leaf

    Rolling these up was a lot of fun.  It felt like craft time.

  • On the Stovetop: Cover rolls with broth and lemon juice. Place a heavy plate that fits inside the pot upside down over the rolls as a weight to keep leaves from unrolling. One recipe suggested you place a clean rock or stone on top of the plate to secure the plate and the rolls. Cover pot and bring to slow simmer. Simmer gently about 75 to 90 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat when done. Let stand covered for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
  • In the Oven: Preheat the oven to 350.  Place rolls in a baking dish with the bottom lined with torn/reserved grape leaves.  Add rolls to the dish tightly in layers.  Cover with broth and lemon juice. Cover pan with aluminum foil that has been greased on the inside. Bake 75 to 90 minutes until both meat and rice are done. Let stand covered for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
  • In the Pressure Cooker: Line the bottom of the pot with reserved/torn grape leaves and pack the rolls tightly in layers into the pressure cooker.  **I covered the rolls with broth, here.  I didn’t weigh them down with anything other than more grape leaves and potatoes, but at least 20% were lost to unrolling (“lost” as in, I had to eat them before plating).  I believe you can do this with just 1-2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot, which prevents them from ‘swimming’ and coming unrolled.** Cook for approx 12 minutes at pressure.  Quick cool and remove. 

    IMG 1280 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Grape leaves before cooking-NOT packed tightly enough

  • Serve hot or cold with Tzatziki!

    IMG 1308 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Tzatziki served with Dolmades (grape leaves), Keftedes (meatballs), and Zucchini Fritters

You can make a lot of these and freeze some for future quick meals!

IMG 1285 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

Dolmades!

May 5, 2011
Food, Recipe

 
 

Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)


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Throw away your ranch dressing! It’s awful for you.
Well, at least try this first.

This is one of the easiest, most delicious, healthy, versatile dips/sauces you can make, and I urge everyone to give it a fair chance.

Tzatziki: Tzatziki, tzadziki, or tsatsiki (Greek: τζατζίκι [dzaˈdzici] or [dʒaˈdʒici]; English pronunciation: /zæˈdziːkiː/)
You’ve probably seen tzatziki on top of your gyro, or served along side pita wedges as a part of a mezze.  Greeks do meze / mezze / mezzedes  like the Spanish do tapas:  small plates of food shared amongst diners.

IMG 1296 300x225   Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)

Cucumber, lemon, fennel, yogurt

There are variations on this dip, but in general these are the ingredients:

  • Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani, which I love and is fat-free.  I also love the Total/Fage brand.  Whichever is on sale)
  • Diced cucumber, and additional sliced cucumber to dip/garnish
  • Garlic or garlic powder (if you don’t have time to let it sit overnight, use powder)
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt, pepper
  • Optional but delicious: dill or Fennel (I used fennel and loved this). I highly recommend these herb scissors I just received as a gift from my mom ( Beach Dazed) as they have 4 blades that slice your fresh herbs right into your bowl–no waste of flavor or herbs, and quite a time saver.
    IMG 12741 300x225   Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)

    Fennel leaves

  • Parsley, mint, and olive oil are all optional enhancements.  Feel free to play around.

Greek yogurt, which is frequently fat-free, is high in protein (higher than other yogurts), has a thicker, creamier texture than other yogurt, and can be used as a substitute for cream and other products in baking and cooking.  For instance, replace cream, cheese, or coconut milk in a curry with Greek Yogurt.  It works, and is delicious. I’ve done it many times.
How I made this batch of tzatziki that had me “mmmmm-ing” with everything I dipped into it (zucchini fritters, dolmades / stuffed grape leaves, cucumbers, keftedes / meatballs, bread… etc.):

  1. Get a large container of greek yogurt and transfer to a larger bowl.
  2. Peel 1/2 of a cucumber, dice and add to the yogurt.
  3. Take the other 1/2 of the cucumber (skin on, if you like) and slice it thickly for dipping/garnishing
  4. Add a healthy squeeze of lemon (1/2 a lemon or less will do, to taste) to the yogurt dip
  5. Sprinkle in a little garlic powder (to taste, again, but tzatziki should be garlicky). You can add fresh minced garlic if you have time to let the dip sit overnight, to absorb the flavors.
  6. Chop 1/3 cup fresh fennel leaves into the dip, or dill if you have that.  I recommend using these herb scissors, they made my life SO much easier (above).
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste
IMG 1297 300x225   Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)

sliced cucumber, and tzatziki before mixing

Enjoy!! Use as a dip for raw veggies, meze foods, fritters, meatballs, pita or bread.  The prep time is only 5 minutes!

IMG 1308 300x225   Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)

Tzatziki served with Dolmades (grape leaves), Keftedes (meatballs), and Zucchini Fritters

May 3, 2011
Food, Kitchen Gadgets, Recipe