One of my favorite things to order in Greece were dolmades, even if I could never quite pronounce them correctly and once ended up with a tomato salad instead. What’s not clear is that the Greek name sounds more like “nnnnn-dolm-aaaa-des” and so oftentimes I think folks taking our order thought I just wanted tomatoes.
In any event, we discovered grape leaves sold in our grocery store recently and so decided to add this to our Greek party adventure.
They were just as laborious as I would have expected, but also just as delicious. I also used two pans, one 10″ and one 12″ to fit all of them to cook.
1/4 cup plus 1 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup long-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 lemons, juiced
1 (8-ounce) jar grape leaves, or 36 medium-sized fresh leaves
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, heat 1/4-cup olive oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and pine nuts and saute for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the rice, salt, and juice of 1 lemon to the bowl with the onion mixture and mix well. Set aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer. Remove the grape leaves from the jar and drop them in batches of 4 or 5 into the hot water. Quickly remove them from the water and spread flat on a towel-lined work surface. Cut the stem from each grape leaf, as needed. (NOTE: Fresh grape leaves also need to be blanched for 1/2 minute.)
To assemble the dolmades, place 1 grape leaf on the work surface, dull side (or underside) of the leaf up. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem (bottom) end up over the filling, fold the sides toward the filling in the center, then roll up the leaf into a small cylindrical package, being careful not to fold too tightly, as the rice will expand during cooking.
Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven or wide saute pan, seam side down. Combine the remaining cup of olive oil and juice of 1 lemon, and pour over the dolmades. (I actually thought this might have been too much oil, but as Lisa points out, the oil is necessary to make sure that the leaves do not dry out.
Cover with a pan lid and add water to cover to the level of the plate. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 1 hour, or until rice is tender.
From Food Network Emeril Lagasse